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How Brad Lidge helped close 'A Snowball's Chance'

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Photo: Joe Vallee Sr.

 

It was late last summer when yours truly and the writers for Philly2Philly’s sports book “A Snowball’s Chance”   found a new burst of creativity and began to march vigorously towards the finish line to get the book finished for a Christmas release.

 

The time had come to consider approaching several prospective Philadelphia athletes in regards to writing a foreward to the book, but we couldn’t decide who we really wanted. Moreover, with a preface, handbook preface and a secret handbook intro (you’ll have to buy the book to see what I mean), there really wasn’t enough room for anything else at the beginning.

 

However, there was room at the end for closing remarks, and then it hit us (or my mother, but more on that in a bit): who better than to offer the closing remarks to our book than the only living Phillies closer to shut the door on a World Series championship- Brad Lidge. 

 

Even though I think this was discussed amongst the guys, my mother insists it was her idea. Maybe it was (I’ll give you partial, mom), but either way, I was going to try like hell to see if I could pull this off. I had previously met Lidge twice: once at the Philadelphia Sports Writers dinner in January 2009, where my dad gave him a personal shot he took of the last pitch of the 2008 World Series (seen above), and last year, when Lidge signed autographs at The Sports Cave just as he was to depart for spring training as a member of the Nationals. Lidge couldn’t have been more gracious and appreciative on both occasions. If anything, I thought he’d at least hear me out. Hopefully I would be able to get my foot in the door if I could reach out to him.

 

So after I made the necessary contacts and informed Brad’s people of the premise of the book and what we were trying to do with it, I heard back several hours later from his agent Rex Gary- who told me Brad would be honored to contribute the closing remarks for ‘A Snowball’s Chance.’

 

SCORE!!!!!!

 

Man was I psyched!  I couldn’t wait to tell the guys. We already had several high profile names in the book, but 2008 was the only championship I could really remember in my lifetime. I was there when Lidge struck out Eric Hinske. I lived it. Now, one of the main players responsible for that trophy was helping me with my book. Crazy. Ok. I’ll stop. You get it.

 

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I was told by Rex that Brad would be contacting me during the week. So you can imagine my reaction one day when I got out of the gym to see I have a voicemail from none other than Lidge himself, telling me to call him the next morning.

 

So I called him the next morning, and as luck would have it, his family was in the process of moving, and the moving truck was JUST pulling into his driveway. He apologized and asked if I could call back in a few hours. I told him he’s helping me and that whatever worked for him worked for me. What followed was a series of 10 second calls back and forth over the course of the day. It got so crazy to where we were both cracking jokes about it whenever I would call him back or he would call me back to tell me he was still moving. Every time, Brad would tell me that he was really sorry. That’s just the kind of guy he is. He didn’t have to keep calling me back to apologize, but he did. That’s why he’s probably the most generous athlete I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting in Philadelphia- and I’ve met my share.

 

Eventually, Brad finished moving later in the evening and called me around 7 pm. I felt like I kind of knew him pretty well by now after talking with him back and forth so many times that day. So after a few more jokes when I picked up the phone, he was finally sitting on his couch with a beer and was ready to go.

 

I proceeded to talk with Brad for almost an hour about a lot of things. After a rough season which saw the Nationals release him, he was enjoying the summer with his family for the first time ever. At that stage, Brad was up in the air as to whether he was going to try and make a comeback and pitch again in the majors. Before he made any crazy decisions, he told me he wanted to wait until the spring. We touched on the stigma of Philly fans as well as the rarity of first year athletes (himself, Moses Malone) becoming champions in the city. Most importantly, I thanked him for what 2008 did for the Tri-State area and the effect it had on me personally. Brad never gets tired of these stories, and told me they make him feel even more special about helping to end the city's 25-year title drought.

 

Brad then asked what I would like from him in regards to the book. I only told him one thing: good or bad, just be honest about the Philadelphia fans. From that point, he knew exactly what I needed. About a week and a half later, Brad sent me his thoughts, which were just like his 2008 season: perfect.

 

Although ‘ A Snowball’s Chance’  has been out since December, Brad had yet to receive his copy of the book. So knowing that Lidge was going to retire as a Phillie this week at Citizens Bank Park, I called him to ask if I could meet up with him and give him his copy, and he insisted we find a way. So this Monday, I stopped by where he was signing autographs with the guys and he couldn’t have been more appreciative when he saw the book- and this was coming from a someone who went out of his way to help us!

 

We decided it would be a nice touch to personalize the book to Brad. And inside his copy, Billy Vargus really summed things up:

 

Brad-

 

You write almost as well as you pitch!

 

 

 

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

 

Thanks again Brad!

 

 

(The following is an excerpt from Brad Lidge’s closing remarks found in A Snowball’s Chance: Philly Fires Back Against the National Media’)

 

Whether or not the fans in Philadelphia know it, they have a reputation that extends far beyond the great city of Philadelphia.  I grew up in Colorado and that is my offseason home, but don't think that just because Colorado is almost 2,000 miles west of Philadelphia that that reputation doesn't stretch there.  It goes far beyond thatall around the cities of the west coast.  So whenever I am home in Colorado, talking baseball with my friends, or with total strangers, people want to know more than just what it was like to throw the last pitch of the World Series in 2008.  They want to know about the fans.  When people ask me what I think about the Philadelphia fans, I have to laugh for a second and say the first thing that comes to my mind:

 

“You wouldn't believe it if I told you.’

 

 

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

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World Series photo: Joe Vallee Sr.