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‘I look forward to being one of you forever': Hamels looks to Phillies past and present

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They waved to the crowd, then took seats behind home plate. Starters Joe Blanton, Jamie Moyer and Roy Oswalt. Reliever Flash Gordon. Catcher Carlos Ruiz. Manager Charlie Manuel and pitching coach Rich Dubee.

They paid their tributes from the giant video board above left field. Pillars Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. They were all members of the 2008 World F. Champion Phillies. So was Cole Hamels, who officially retired as a member of the organization that drafted, signed and developed him in a touching ceremony before Friday night’s game at Citizens Bank Park.

“Win today and we walk together forever,” Flyers coach Fred Shero famously wrote on the blackboard before his team went out and captured the 1974 Stanley Cup, a sentiment that echoes through the sporting generations.

Hamels made his mark with three All-Star selections and a no-hitter in his final start before being traded but is best remembered in these parts for being named Most Valuable Player 2008 NLCS and World Series, resulting in just the second championship in franchise history.

“What we were able to accomplish. I think that’s why we’re so close,” Hamels said after the touching ceremony that saluted his 10 years with the Phillies, a nod to all his ’08 teammates and the bond they share. “We were able to do something special in the city (for) the best fans in the world.”

What gave that sentiment added poignance was the fact that it came just moments after he addressed the sold-out crowd when he also effusively complimented the fans for their support.

“It was for all of us,” he said, his words echoing into the South Philadelphia night. “We won together and we celebrated down Broad Street together,” said Hamels, who still maintains a home in the area.

(Loud cheers)

“I look forward to being one of you forever.”

(Louder cheers)

And then, with maybe just the slightest glance at the home dugout: “And now it’s this team’s turn!”

(Loudest cheers of all)

In the conference room, Hamels elaborated that he “absolutely” believes the 2024 edition has the right stuff to create the kind of everlasting memory the ’08 team did.

“I think in that clubhouse, you can kind of see the fun that they’re having, the confidence they all have in each other,” he explained. “They’re similar to what we were but they’re their own team, too.”

During the pregame ceremony, former teammate Aaron Nola and Kyle Schwarber, who pinch hit for the Cubs during Hamels’ 2015 no-no, presented him with the pitching rubber from Wrigley Field that day as well as the original scorecard.

Owner John Middleton and Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt presented him with a hand-painted baseball glove commemorating his career high points. There was a tribute video.

Hamels, still just 40 and only a year removed from abandoning hopes for a comeback, isn’t sure what’s next for him, beyond spending some quality time with his family. He still has time to author several more chapters in his life.

The one thing that will remain indelible is the decade-long impression he made on the city and its baseball team.

The connection to the city, the championship, and so much more, Cole Hamels chats with Taryn Hatcher about the impact the 2008 team on the city.

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