Sports in Philadelphia

Sports in Philadelphia

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has a rich tradition of sports, from club sports in the mid-nineteenth century to the professional teams and events of today.

Major-league professional teams

Philadelphia has a long and proud history of professional sports teams. Philadelphia fans have a reputation of avid devotion to their teams, in good times and in bad. Of late, Philadelphia teams have been performing well, but have much more often than not missed championships by failing in the crucial stages. Some locals jokingly attribute this to the "Curse of Billy Penn". The city's last major championship came in 1983, when the 76ers swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals.

The Eagles, Phillies, Flyers, and 76ers have each recently had new venues built for them. The Eagles currently play at Lincoln Financial Field ("The Linc"), built in 2003. The Phillies now play at Citizens Bank Park, opened in 2004. The Flyers and 76ers share the Wachovia Center (formerly the CoreStates Center (1996-1998), then the First Union Center (1998-2003)), opened in 1996, with the Philadelphia Wings (National Lacrosse League) and the Philadelphia Soul (Arena Football League) arena football team. The Wachovia Spectrum (1967) is now home to the Flyers' top farm team, the Philadelphia Phantoms (American Hockey League), and the Philadelphia KiXX (Major Indoor Soccer League), an indoor soccer team.

Philadelphia is the only North American city in which all of its teams (Eagles, Flyers, Phillies and 76ers) from the four major sports leagues have played for their respective championships in one year, 1980. However, only the Phillies were able to earn a championship, by defeating the Kansas City Royals in six games in the 1980 World Series. The Eagles lost to the Oakland Raiders, 27-10, in Super Bowl XV, the Flyers fell to the New York Islanders in six games in the Stanley Cup Finals, and the 76ers bowed to the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA Finals in six games, as well.

Philadelphia is also one of a small handful of cities, which include Atlanta, Chicago and Denver, where all of its teams from the four major leagues play within the city limits.

Philadelphia has also been home to the Philadelphia Athletics (MLB, now the Oakland Athletics), and the Philadelphia Warriors (NBA, now the Golden State Warriors).



Founded as the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883, the team changed its name to the Phillies in 1890.


The Philadelphia Athletics were founded in 1901 in the American League to compete with the Phillies. They played their last season in Philadelphia in 1954 before moving to Kansas City and eventually, in 1968 moving to Oakland.

White Stockings

The Philadelphia White Stockings played in the National Association of Professional Baseball Players from 1873-1875. They renamed their franchise twice as the Philadelphia Pearls in 1874 and the Philadelphia Phillies in 1875.


The Philadelphia Centennials played in the National Association of Professional Baseball Players in 1875 but failed to complete a season before folding.


The Philadelphia Keystones played one season in the Union Association in 1884.


The Philadelphia Quakers played one season in the Players League in 1890.


The Philadelphia Stars played in the Negro National League from 1934 to 1948.


*1871 Philadelphia Athletics (NAPBP)
*1883 Philadelphia Athletics (AA)
*1910 Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
*1911 Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
*1913 Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
*1929 Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
*1930 Philadelphia Athletics (MLB)
*1980 Philadelphia Phillies (MLB)


Philadelphia has been represented in the National Basketball Association by the Warriors (now in Oakland, California) and the 76ers. Defunct teams include the Fusion of the American Basketball Association and the Fox of the Women's Professional Basketball League as well as the American Basketball League's Rage.


Philadelphia Warriors



The Philadelphia Tapers played in the American Basketball League from 1962-1963.


The Philadelphia Fusion, formerly the Jersey Squires, was an American Basketball Association (ABA) team. The team folded in February 2005 with a record of 3-10.


The Philadelphia Rage moved from Richmond, Virginia in 1997 and played a year and a half in the American Basketball League before the league folded in mid-season in 1998.


Philadelphia has been the home of two National Football League teams, one Arena Football League team, one World Football League team, and one USFL league team.

Frankford Yellow Jackets

The city's first NFL team was the Frankford Yellow Jackets. Originally a community athletic-association team in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia dating back to about 1900, the club became one of the early NFL clubs in 1924. The Yellow Jackets won the NFL championship in 1926. Its home field was Frankford Stadium (also called Yellow Jacket Field). The club disbanded in the 1931 season.


Two years after the Yellow Jackets folded, Bert Bell and Lud Wray bought the franchise rights and formed a new team, the Philadelphia Eagles.


The Philadelphia Soul is currently a member of the Arena Football League and began their existence in 2004. They currently play in the both the Wachovia Spectrum and Wachovia Center, depending on the schedule.


The Philadelphia Bell was a franchise of the World Football League, which operated in 1974 and for a portion of a season in 1975. It played its home games in JFK Stadium.


The Philadelphia Stars (football) were a football team in the USFL in 1983-84, after which they became the Baltimore Stars for their final season in 1985. They won the USFL Championship in 1984.


The Philadelphia Bulldogs played in the Continental Football league from 1965-1967. They won the 1966 championship.


The Philadelphia Quakers played in the American Football League in 1926 and won the championship in 1926.

The Phillies and Athletics

In 1902 the MLB owners of the Philadelphia Phillies, Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates created 3 football teams with the same names and called it the National Football League. Pittsburgh was declared the champion after one season of play.


1926* Frankford Yellowjackets (NFL)1926* Philadelphia Quakers (AFL)1948* Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)1949* Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)1960* Philadelphia Eagles (NFL)1966* Philadelphia Bulldogs (CFL)1984* Philadelphia Stars (USFL)2008* Philadelphia Soul (AFL)

All-Philly All-Century Football Team

This team represents Ted Silary's opinion of the best NFL players from Philadelphia-area high schools through the 1999 season.
Philadelphia Daily News, April 12, 2000.
Milt Plum, QB,Woodbury / Penn State

Franco Harris, RB,Rancocas Valley / Penn State

Leroy Kelly, RB,Simon Gratz / Morgan State

Irving Fryar, WR,Rancocas Valley / Nebraska

John Taylor, WR,Pennsauken / Delaware State

Frank Wycheck, TE,Archbishop Ryan / Maryland

Erik Williams, L,John Bartram / Central State (O.)

Frank Kilroy, L,North Catholic / Temple

Harry Swayne, L,Cardinal Dougherty / Rutgers

Joe Fields, L,Gloucester Catholic / Widener

Joe Devlin, L, Great Valley / Iowa

Matt Bahr, K, Neshaminy / Penn State

Billy Johnson, Ret., Chichester / Widener

Joe Klecko, L, St. James (Pa.) / Temple

Jim Katcavage, L, Roman Catholic / Dayton

Art Still, L, Camden / Kentucky

Mike Jarmoluk L Frankford / Temple

Dave Robinson, LB,Moorestown / Penn State

Al Atkinson, LB,Monsignor Bonner / Villanova

Neal Olkewicz, LB,Phoenixville / Maryland

Herb Adderley, CB,Northeast / Michigan State

Emlen Tunnell, S.Radnor/Toledo-Iowa

Deron Cherry, S,Palmyra / Rutgers

Kevin Ross, CB,Paulsboro / Temple

Frank Reagan, P,North Catholic / Penn
----All-Philly All-Century Best of the rest
Willie "Flipper" Anderson, WR, Paulsboro / UCLA
Bob Bell, DL, West Phila. / Cincinnati
Steve Bono, QB, Norristown / UCLA
James Brown, L, Jules Mastbaum / Virginia State
John Brown, L, Camden / Syracuse
Greg Buttle, LB, Mainland / Penn State
John Cappelletti, RB, Monsignor Bonner ' Penn State
Dick Christy, Ret., St. James (Pa.) / North Carolina State
Angelo Coia, WR, Northeast / Southern Cal
Andre Collins, LB, Cinnaminson / Penn State
Ed Cook, L, South Catholic / Notre Dame
Jim Cooper, L, Cardinal Dougherty / Temple
Jack Ferrante, WR, West Phila. / None
Frank Gallagher, L, St. James (Pa.) / North Carolina
Rich Gannon, QB, St. Joe's Prep / Delaware
Anthony Griggs, LB, John F. Kennedy / Villanova/Ohio State
David Griggs, LB, Pennsauken / Virginia
Burt Grossman, DL, Archbishop Carroll / Pittsburgh
Randy Grossman, TE, Haverford High / Temple
Marvin Harrison, WR, Roman Catholic / Syracuse
Best of the rest (continued)
Charles Tornetta, DL, Plymouth-Whitemarsh / Villanova
Dwight Hicks, DB, Pennsauken / Michigan
George Jamison, LB, Bridgeton / Cincinnati
Lance Johnstone, DL, Germantown / Temple
Bill Maas, DL, Marple-Newtown / Pittsburgh
Brison Manor, DL, Bridgeton / Arkansas
Lydell Mitchell, RB, Salem / Penn State
Tom Mitchell, TE, Plymouth-Whitemarsh / Bucknell
John Pergine, LB, Plymouth-Whitemarsh / Notre Dame
Derrick Ramsey, TE, Camden / Kentucky
Jesse Richardson, DL, Roxborough / Alabama
Irvin "Bo" Roberson, WR, John Bartram / Cornell
Dave Rowe, DL, Deptford / Penn State
Mike Rozier, RB, Woodrow Wilson (N.J.) / Nebraska
Todd Rucci, L, Upper Darby / Penn State
Jim Ryan, LB, Bishop Eustace / William & Mary
Harry Schuh, L, Neshaminy / Memphis State
Irv Smith, TE, Pemberton / Notre Dame
Alonzo Spellman, DL, Rancocas Valley / Ohio State
Don Strock, QB, Owen J. Roberts / Virginia Tech
Keith Taylor, DB, Pennsauken / Illinois
John Tracey, LB, Northeast / Texas A&M
J.T. Turner, L, Benjamin Franklin / Duke

Ice hockey


The Philadelphia Quakers were a National Hockey League team that played only one full season, 1930-31, at the Philadelphia Arena. They were the successors of the Pittsburgh Pirates.


The Philadelphia Flyers were part of the 1967 NHL Expansion, the league's first. They have won two championships, the 1974 and 1975 Stanley Cups.


Philadelphia Major League Soccer team

Major League Soccer will place an expansion team in Philadelphia beginning in 2010. The new team will play its home games in the not-yet-built Chester Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Philadelphia Women's Professional Soccer team

Women's Professional Soccer will also be placing an expansion team in Philadelphia beginning in 2010. As with the new Major League Soccer franchise, the women's team will play at Chester Stadium.


The Philadelphia KiXX are an indoor soccer team in the National Indoor Soccer League. They won the championship in the 2001-2002 and 2006-2007 seasons.



The Philadelphia Barrage of Major League Lacrosse play at the United Sports Training Center in Downingtown, PA. They have won the MLL Championship twice since moving from Bridgeport, CT.


The Philadelphia Wings of the National Lacrosse League play at the Wachovia Center in South Philadelphia. The Wings have won the NLL title six times, in 1989, 1990, 1994, 1995, 1998, and 2001. They are currently the longest-tenured team in one location in the NLL.

Wings (1974-75)

The original National Lacrosse League played box lacrosse in the summers of 1974 and 1975 until the 1976 Summer Olympics prevented the Montreal franchise from playing home games and forced the league to fold. The Wings and this NLL have no relation to their current incarnations although the Wings logo was resurrected and John Grant Sr., father of John Grant Jr., played for both versions of the Wings.

Team tennis


Minor-league professional teams

Ice hockey


The Philadelphia Phantoms were created in 1996 and have won two Calder Cups, in 1997-98, and 2004-05.


The Philadelphia Firebirds were a minor-league hockey team from 1974-1979. They played in the defunct North American Hockey League from 1974-1977, winning the league championship in 1976. When the NAHL folded in 1977, they joined the American Hockey League, where they played from 1977-1979. In 1979, the team moved to Syracuse, N.Y. They played their home games at the Philadelphia Civic Center, razed in 2005.

emi-professional, amateur, and community teams



The Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC are the only semi-professional rugby union team in Philadelphia. The team was formed in 1985, due to the merging of the Philadelphia and Whitemarsh clubs. The team competes in the Rugby Super League.

The Schuylkill River Exiles Rugby Football team is one of two Division 1 rugby team located in Philadelphia. The team plays matches at FDR park located across from the major Philadelphia sports teams stadiums. The Exiles are members of and compete in MARFU, The Mid-Atlantic Rugby Football Union, and are also members of USA rugby. The team competes against various other local area teams and plays matches against teams from Boston to Charlotte and out to Pittsburgh.

Media Rugby Football Club is a Division 1 Rugby Union organization and a registered 501(c)3 non-profit, charitable organization based outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (EIN 23-2799960). It exists to play and promote the sport of Rugby Union and to further the growth of the sport in the United States. Media Rugby is a member organization of USA Rugby and the Mid-Atlantic Rugby Union.

Philadelphia is the home of rugby league in the US and has two community clubs in the American National Rugby League, the Glen Mills Bulls and the Philadelphia Fight. The game was re-introduced into the USA by David Niu, an Australian who is now an American national and is still a regular in the United States national rugby league team who will soon be competing in the 2008 Rugby League World Cup qualifying match against Japan in Philadelphia in October 2006.

Philadelphia hosted the St Patrick's Day international between USA and Ireland six times between 1995 and 2004.


Cricket has a long history of play in Philadelphia and is arguably the hotbed for cricket in the US. [ [ Cricinfo - Philadelphia ] ] It was the center of the "golden age" of American cricket in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The Philadelphia Cricket Club was founded in 1854. [ name='CricinfoArticle'> cite web|url= |title=Cricinfo - Pennsylvania's hidden secret |last=Das |first=Deb |accessdate=2007-02-14 |date=7 April 2005 |publisher=Cricinfo ] Greats such as Bart King, Percy Clark and Christie Morris played for the team in its prime. Though it was disbanded in 1924, it was revived in 1998. There are also cricket clubs in Germantown and Merion.

Since 1993, the city has been home to the annual Philadelphia International Cricket Festival, held during the first weekend in May, benefiting the Inglis Foundation. Each year, twelve teams, including five from the area and seven from across the United States or guest international sides, are invited to participate in the Festival.

Professional and world-class events

Several events are competed in Philadelphia on a regular basis.


Philadelphia International Championship

The Manayunk area of the city is home to the annual Philadelphia International Championship bike race. The main feature of the race is the "Manayunk Wall", an inclined street including all of Levering Avenue and a few blocks of Lyceum Avenue. The race has been largely credited with the economic revival of the neighborhood, and cycling is a prominent theme of many of the shops and restaurants in the area.

Competed at the same time and over the same course is the women's "Liberty Classic".

Track and field, road racing

Penn Relays

Philadelphia hosts the annual Penn Relays, held at Franklin Field, the largest early-season track and field meet in the U.S.

Broad Street Run

One of the busiest streets in the city, Broad Street, is closed to traffic for the annual [ Broad Street Run] , a 10-mile race contested since 1980.

Philadelphia Distance Run

Philadelphia Marathon

The Philadelphia Marathon (aka the Philadelphia Independence Marathon), founded in 1954, is an annual marathon sporting event held on the third Sunday of November.

Pro tour tennis

Pro tour golf

Collegiate sports


The Army-Navy football game, an annual football game between the rival service academies West Point and the United States Naval Academy, has been held more often in Philadelphia (which is located approximately midway between the two schools) than in all other locations put together. Eleven of the past fifteen Army-Navy Games have been held in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia-area school with a Division I football team is Temple University.However, many Philadelphia residents are fans of the nearby Pennsylvania State University Nittany Lions Division I Football team.


Since 1955, Philadelphia has been home to the Big Five, a unique basketball rivalry among five local Division I universities: Temple, St. Joe's, Penn, Villanova, and La Salle. The Big Five have played many of their games at the Palestra, Penn's venerable gymnasium. The Big 5 rivalry is unique because each of the schools has a rich basketball history and each school is located within a fifteen mile radius of all of the others.

Drexel University also fields a Division I team and makes up the City 6 in extramurals with the Big 5.

In addition, Division II teams are fielded by Chestnut Hill College, Holy Family University, Philadelphia University (men and women), and the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia.


Philadelphia hosts numerous local and collegiate rowing clubs and competitions, including the annual Dad Vail Regatta, the largest intercollegiate rowing event in the U.S., and the Stotesbury Cup Regatta [] , both held on the Schuylkill River. Boathouse Row is a symbol of Philadelphia's rich rowing history. Each Big 5 member has its own boathouse.

High-school sports

Public League

In 2005, the Public League joined the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, as District 12. The first state championship won by a Public League team was the Preparatory Charter High School basketball team, winning the AA state basketball championship in 2006.Fact|date=March 2007

Catholic League

Interacademic League

Interleague play


Philadelphia does have a rich history of boxing. The city is home to The Blue Horizon, which is considered one of the finest boxing establishments in the world. The New Alhambra Arena was named 2006 Venue of the Year by ESPN2 boxing program Wednesday Night Fights.

Joe Frazier

Originally a native of Beaufort, South Carolina, former world heavyweight champion and Olympic gold medalist, Joe Frazier, currently resides in Philadelphia having lived there for most of his career. He currently owns and manages a boxing gym.

Bernard Hopkins

Philadelphia native Bernard Hopkins is a former world middleweight champion. His career remains active in the light heavyweight division.

Auto racing

While Philadelphia does not currently host any professional automobile racing, midget car racing was popular during the 1930s and '40s. The two major tracks were Yellow Jacket Speedway, which closed in 1950, and National Speedway, which closed during World War II as a result of fuel rationing. Races were sanctioned by the American Automobile Association. [ [ The Vintage Racer] ]

In 2005, the Champ Car World Series began negotiating with the city to organize a race. Several locations for a street course were discussed including the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Fairmount Park, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt Park, but no agreement could be reached. [ [ USAToday] article about race track opposition]

Philadelphia is in close proximity to Dover International Speedway, Pocono Raceway, and the defunct Langhorne Speedway, Nazareth Speedway and Flemington Speedway.


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