Philadelphia sports fans earned a nasty reputation on December 15, 1968, when a stadium full of miserable Eagles fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs. Have they yet outlived this infamy?
Philadelphia sportsfans earned a nasty reputation on December 15, 1968, when a stadium full of miserable Eagles fans pelted Santa Claus with snowballs.
For 43 years, Frank Olivo, of Glenolden, Pa., has enjoyed some degree of local reknown as that hapless Santa. ESPN recently profiled him. He’s in poor health, but he still remembers that day fondly. And he has not given up on his Eagles or his fellow fans.
“The Philadelphia sports fan, regardless of whether the team is good or bad, they will fill these stadiums,” he told ESPN, “they’ll put their money out to go to these games, they’ll support the team.”
When Olivo, wearing a red Santa suit on a lark, was recruited at the last minute for that halftime show half a lifetime ago, it was the last Eagles game of the season. Their losing streak was so bad that they—if they’d just kept losing—stood to get the first 1969 draft pick, which might have earned them one O.J. Simpson.
But they had won the prior game, so even those hopes were dashed. So, fans were not in a good mood to start with. The snow-covered bleachers at Franklin Field and miserably cold wind did not help. When they saw a the second-rate Santa take the field, they’d had enough.
Thenceforth, Philly has been known as one of the toughest towns on sports teams, her fans such bullies that they would even boo jolly old St. Nick.
Fans haven’t given up on their Eagles. After a weak start to the season, they may yet win their division and make it to the playoffs. No one will be teasing Santa. They may even thank him for the successful delivery of a Christmas miracle.
Has Philly outlived this reputation? Tell us what you think.