Dear Pat Burrell,
Thank you for all you did for this city during your nine years on the ballclub. You came to us a decade ago as the No. 1 overall draft pick out of the University of Miami. You were the MVP of the College World Series as a freshman, and the first Phillie selected No. 1 overall in the draft ever.
We hoped you could do the same for this team as the legendary Mike Schmidt—dominate the league during your career, win a couple of MVPs, lead us to a World Championship, and maybe even end up in the same place as Schmidt—Cooperstown.
We remember your rookie season in 2000, in which you collected two hits, including a triple, in your first major league game. You hit 18 home runs that year, showing unlimited potential at the plate. You were a beast with the bases loaded, collecting eight hits and three grand slams in just 11 at-bats. We called you "Pat the Bat" and expected great things out of you.
You followed that up with a 27-homer, .258 season in '01, and under new manager Larry Bowa, we won 86 games and looked to be making strong progress as a team. It had been eight years since we had made the playoffs as we as a city were desperate for a title.
Across town, Donovan and those Eagles won their division and came just a game short of the Super Bowl. We were excited to be Philly fans, and were hoping for a couple of championship parades between the two of you over the next several years.
In 2002, when you finished seventh in the MVP voting, we were convinced you were the real deal. With Scott Rolen leaving for St. Louis in the middle of the season, you became our best power threat in the lineup.
We knew you would never win a Gold Glove in left field or lead the league in stolen bases, but we were proud of your strong arm and your patience at the plate. We admit that we grew frustrated when you struck out too many times.
But hey, Schmitty struck out a lot too, and so did Abreu. All the great power hitters—McGwire, Sosa, Thome, heck, even Babe Ruth—whiffed a lot. So we were willing to look past that. Ed Wade rewarded you with a six-year, $50 million contract after the season, and with our signing of slugger Jim Thome from the Indians, we had high hopes for both you and the team in '03.
But then you shocked us all. You hit just .209, with 21 homers—for the entire 2003 season. We booed you mercilessly, and you deserved it. You were supposed to hit 50 home runs—and what the heck was with this .209 garbage? Schmidt hit .196 for us that one year, but that was his rookie season, and he followed that up with three straight seasons of leading the league in home runs.
This was your fourth year in the show, and we expected a Most Valuable Player award out of you. We weren't prepared for you to be the least valuable player in baseball!
After that, you bounced back with a much better season in '04 and you even finished seventh in the MVP voting in '05, but by that point, we began to focus on your flaws. How come you couldn't hit .300? Why didn't you lead the league in home runs? And how on earth do you call that defense out there in left field?
We became irritated with you. We called up WIP and petitioned for you to be traded. You didn't help your cause in 2006 when you hit .194 in June. We were happy when you were traded to the Orioles in the summer, but you vetoed the deal because you wanted to stay in Philly. You finished the season with 29 home runs, but we chose to focus on your 131 strikeouts.
In 2007, we really became fed up with you. You started off hot, hitting .344 near the end of April, but slumped miserably. By July 1, you had just endured a 1-for-32 slump and were hitting .201. We were glad Charlie benched you. Served you right.
But you won us back. You hit .435 in July and helped us win the N.L. East for the first time in 14 seasons. We will never forget how you killed the Mets late in the year. You hit four home runs and helped us sweep that crucial four-game series at the end of the August.
Chase may have gotten the glory for that walk-off single he had when we beat the Mets, 11-10, but you hit two home runs in that game.
This past year, we really began to appreciate you. You hit 33 home runs, didn't make an error in the field, and helped us win the N.L. East for the second straight year. You became just the second Phillie in our history to hit two home runs in a playoff game, and you did it in the game that helped us win the NLDS. And you doubled in your last at-bat of the World Series—which was also your last at-bat ever as a Phillie.
We are really going to miss you here in this town. We didn't always treat you with a lot of respect, but you never complained. You never asked for a pay raise, you never talked back to us as fans, you really never did anything but just go out there and do your job. And you were a lot better than we all gave you credit for.
You rank second on our all-time home run list. It was just fitting that you led our championship parade—you and that ugly dog of yours—in just the second World Championship we've had in our franchise's history, and the first parade in any sport in 25 years. And we are eternally grateful for that.
Good luck with your new team, Pat. And wherever you go, we hope you think back on us and remember all the good times you had.
Thanks again, Pat.
Phillies Fans Everywhere