Philadelphia Phillies. When it comes to African Americans, the Phillies have done a 180-degree turn from where they started. As shown in the film “42,” the Phillies, led by manager Ben Chapman, took bench jockeying to new lows, taunting Jackie Robinson and treating him viciously. The Phillies were also the last National League team to have a black player on their roster. In 1957 the Phillies brought up their first African American player, John Kennedy (of all names), some ten years after Robinson joined the Dodgers. It took the Phillies an entire decade to integrate their club, yet today the Phillies are probably the most progressive team in Major League Baseball in terms of developing and signing black ballplayers. Under the guidance of manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies have had two African American Most Valuable Players (Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard) in the past decade. In a recent interleague game in which the designated hitter was used, the Phillies had six African Americans in their starting lineup. Those players were Rollins, Howard, Ben Revere, Domonic Brown, John Mayberry Jr., and Delmon Young. No other ML team can come close to that and some teams don’t have even one African American in their starting lineup. So the Phillies have gone from being one of the worst teams regarding race to the team arguably giving black players the greatest opportunity.
Philadelphia Eagles, number one place for black quarterbacks. Philadelphia remains the top destination for black quarterbacks. Donovan McNabb, who enjoyed an All-Pro NFL career, spent most of his career on the Philadelphia Eagles, joining them after being selected number two in the first round of the 1999 draft. In addition to McNabb, black quarterbacks who have worn the Eagles uniform include Randall Cunningham, John Walton, Rodney Peete, Michael Vick, Vince Young, Jeff Blake, Don McPherson and Dennis Dixon. No other team in the NFL has even come close to the Eagles in terms of giving African American quarterbacks a chance to play.
Philadelphia 76ers (Sixers). The Sixers have long been among the most progressive teams in the NBA regarding race. In the 1960s, they could put on the court an all-black starting lineup of Wilt Chamberlain, Chet Walker, Lucious Jackson, Hal Greer and Wali Jones. During that era only the Boston Celtics were willing to do that. This forward-looking policy wasn’t all about altruism. The Sixers won the NBA title in 1967 and the Celtics won in the years surrounding that.
In terms of race relations, Philadelphia has had its ups and downs over the years. But overall African American athletes can have marvelous opportunities in the City of Brotherly Love.
“42,” biographical sports film, Legendary Pictures, Warner Brothers Pictures distribution, 2013