Top Ten Philly Sports Moments of 2011: #7 Phillies Fans Celebrate Osama bin Laden’s Death

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This is our third annual “Top Ten Philly Sports Moments of the Year.” You can find lists from 2009 and 2010 here and here. We will be rolling out the moments over the next few days through New Year's Day.

Scene: The first day of May, a Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN. Cliff Lee sprinkled the mound with excellence for seven innings. Still, though, it wasn’t enough. The Phillies and Mets appeared headed to extra innings, tied 1-1.

Then this happened:

I was at the game, and had no idea what was going on. Here’s what I wrote on May 2:

I was seated in section 422 at Citizens Bank Park last night. When the chants of USA, USA rung out, I honestly had no idea why (thanks to AT&T barely working at the ballpark), and spent about 10 minutes trying to figure out whether Ike Davis or Daniel Murphy were Canadian. Neither of them are.

A few minutes later, a guy behind me filled me in, and then it all made sense.

What's interesting is that this campaign to capture bin Laden was communicated by President Bush on September 20th, 2001, and one of the first places where instant reaction was seen was the then- First Union Center during a game between the Flyers and Rangers. Now, almost 10 years later, when the news of his death spread, it was a Phillies game on national television which captured the instant reaction.


The Phillies wound up losing the game, but that wasn’t important. Bin Laden’s death was arguably the biggest news story of the year, and the country’s reaction was dictated, in part, by Phillies fans at Citizens Bank Park.

Full reaction after the jump.

Cliff Lee: [Ryan Lawrence] [CSNPhilly]

"Sitting in the dugout, I didn't realize what was going on for a minute and then someone came in there and said, you know, obviously, Bin Laden had been killed over there. It took them long enough."


Ryan Howard: []

"At the time, I was just focusing on the game, because I didn't know what the chants were. I was stil kind of in game mode. It was I guess kind of an uplifting moment to let us know the war over there can finally come to an end."


Charlie Manuel: []

"I think they didn't realize it until (Shane) Victorino, he came in the video room and they told him what they were hollering about and he went and told the guys on the bench."

When asked what he thought about the "USA" chants, Manuel said "I think they were happy."

"I was more concentrating on the game."


Shane Victorino: []

"That's 100-percent absolutely wrong," he said. "I didn't break the news, but I found out what happened. There was a buzz around the dugout that Osama had been killed, so that's why everybody was chanting 'USA.' I think everybody on the field was wondering what was going on.

"I guess it's a big day for Americans. It's a special moment for us. More important was the fact we were playing the game. That's more important than anything else. After the game, you sit back and you think about something like that happening and it has been almost 10 years. For those who have suffered, I heard a couple of statements on the news that for those people lost on 9-11, they have some kind of closure. It definitely is a big day for American history."


David Wright: [Andy McCullough]

"I don’t like to give Philadelphia fans too much credit. But they got this one right. I guess it's a proud moment to stand out there and you've got 45-50,000 chanting. That was pretty special."


Terry Collins: []

"Obviously this is a big night for the United States. I wish we could have finished the game two hours ago and celebrated a little bit of it. We'll take a nice ride home, take the day off and get ready for San Francisco. This is a good win for us, and obviously a huge win for America tonight."


Pedro Beato: []

"When I was in high school, we got called into the auditorium. I thought it was like a routine thing. Five days into the school year my freshman year, I don't know what's going on. They called us in. They were talking about what happened, but I didn't understand too well. Me and a friend of mine just went up to the roof of the building once we knew what it was. We saw the building just smoking from the roof."

I couldn't stay up there that long. We didn't want to get in trouble either."


Chris Young: []

"It's probably a night I'll never forget. I came inside and heard the news. There are some things bigger than the game and our jobs. I was inside. You could hear the crowd chanting, 'U-S-A.' And I got chills hearing that. It was a pretty neat atmosphere and place to be to get that kind of news. … It's certainly a historic night and a great victory for the United States and the war on terrorism."


Danys Baez: []

"It was a really close game and everybody was focused on the game. Obviously what happened today for the United States and the rest of the world was great, but there was a really close ballgame going on and we had to concentrate on that."


– Mets reporter Steve Popper thinks the Phillies screwed up by not putting Obama's speech on the scoreboard.

– The folks from The School Philly have amazing video from the celebration at Penn State.

– Former Flyers beat reporter Steve Whyno recaps the post-Caps-game reaction at the White House.

– A roundup of athlete reactions.


4 Responses

  1. I was there, and it really wasn’t what people made it out to be. It would have been climatic if they stopped the game for a few minutes to show Obama’s announcement (like the Flyers did when Bush gave his speech after 9/11). When we first heard, it seemed like a rumor.

  2. I was there too and I thought later in the game after the chants started they announced it. You’re right it wasn’t as good as they made it out to be but it was still quite awesome.

  3. I was there too, standing in the concourse, behind home plate on the first base side. Kept checking my twitter because my news-producer friends were talking about a mysterious press conference that Obama was calling for, originally at about 9 or 10. It kept getting pushed back, but they knew what it was about by 9:30. I was hearing rumors but didn’t want to start telling people until it was confirmed by AP. when that happened I told a bunch of people around me, and one of those guys started telling everyone in sight. Even yelling it. Within 10 minutes, the stadium was chanting and the wifi signals were too busy to look online. What a crazy experience to be a part of.

  4. None of you fags were there…just like every big game 45,000 seats and 1.7 million people were there…losers

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