Philadelphia, Kansas City enjoy golden eras in sports – KGET 17

PHOENIX (AP) — Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt remembers the halcyon days of Philadelphia sports in the early 1980s when, over the course of consecutive seasons, four of the city’s professional sports teams played for championships.

The Flyers lost to the Islanders in the Stanley Cup Finals. The 76ers fell to the Lakers in the NBA Finals. The Eagles were blown out by the Raiders in the Super Bowl. Only the Phillies – Schmidt and those fantastic Phillies – were successful, beating the Kansas City Royals in six games to win the World Series.

Schmidt called 1980 “a year I’ll never forget,” not only for that championship, but also for the start of his long friendship with third baseman George Brett, which continues to this day but will be put to the test Sunday.

Schmidt pulls for the Eagles in the Super Bowl. Brett, naturally enough, goes all-in on the Chiefs.

“He and I had a bet,” Schmidt said. “Only $20, but bragging rights are worth millions.”

There really aren’t any losers in Philly or Kansas City these days.

The Phillies are coming off another World Series appearance and another loss, this time to the Astros, while the Eagles try to avoid a similar fate Sunday night. The Sixers are advancing in the Eastern Conference with Joel Embiid and James Harden, Villanova is advancing to the Final Four, and the Union is playing for the Major League Soccer title.

Even Temple beat Houston a few weeks ago in men’s basketball, the third win over a No. 1 team in program history.

“I live in Atlanta,” said Hall of Famer Julius Erving, who was a big part of the Sixers’ success in the early 1980s, “so when I turn on the radio, all I hear is Atlanta sports. It’s so nice to be back in Philly and know the party is here.

“The city is crazy,” added dr. J. “Everybody feels alone.”

They’re warm and fuzzy in Kansas City, too.

The city that sits on the Kansas-Missouri state line long ago shed its old cow town image, turning into a hipster paradise on the plains.

And the dizzying amount of sports in Kansas City, along with the success of Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs over the years, has only added to the sense of civic pride people feel these days.

“I think the fan base is incredible,” Chiefs wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster said. “I want to be in a place where I can play the ball, show my personality and just beat a man, so yeah. This was it.”

The Chiefs are playing in their third Super Bowl in four years and are trying to bring home their second Lombardi Trophy in that span.

And just across the parking lot, in the past decade, the long-suffering Royals have won two American League pennants and a World Series — though they’re now in the midst of a major rebuilding effort.

It’s not that they’ve become irrelevant. They are in the planning stages to replace the old gem of Kauffman Stadium with a new downtown stadium, which promises to be the centerpiece of the village and entertainment complex.

Another stadium is under construction, too, for the Kansas City Current of the National Women’s Soccer League — the team lost the NWSL title game to the Portland Thorns in late October. Mahomes owns a stake in that club, along with pieces of the Royals and MLS club Sporting Kansas City.

Next month, the NCAA Tournament brings the regional finals to the T-Mobile Center, and there’s a chance Kansas will be there trying to defend its men’s basketball national championship. Then, in April, the NFL brings its circus to town with a big lineup centered around historic downtown Union Station.

“How could it be better?” asked Kathy Nelson, executive director of the Kansas City Sports Commission, who grew up with Brett and the Royals and now helps organize the draft and other events in the city.

“I remember celebrating the championship,” she said, “but I don’t remember a time when we were stacked like this.”

Most cities have a golden age in sports. Some more than one. And sometimes they can last decades, like the one in Boston, where over nearly two decades his four pro teams won a total of 12 championships: six Lombardi Trophies for the Patriots, four World Series crowns for the Red Sox and titles each for the Bruins and Celtics.

Philadelphia and Kansas City are currently basking in the glow of one.


Gelston reported from Philadelphia.


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