History of the Philadelphia-Toronto ... rivalry?
Philly-Dallas, now THAT’S a rivalry. Philly-Boston? Pure hatred. Philly-Washington has become quite the rivalry as well. Philly-Toronto? Seriously? We’re not going to try and paint Philly-Toronto as a real rivalry, but we did come up with a list of connections between the two cities spanning all four sports and more. And come on, where else can you read about Meek Mill, Jim Konstanty, Gizmo Williams, Tie Domi and Joel Embiid in the same place? Right. Nowhere!
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A lot of the players on the Phillies team that lost in four games to the Joe DiMaggio Yankees in the 1950 World Series came up through Toronto, which from 1948 through 1950 was the Phillies’ highest minor-league affiliate — the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League (People in Toronto apparently just call all their teams the Maple Leafs.). Willie Jones, who had 28 doubles and 25 homers for the 1950 Phillies, played minor-league ball in Toronto, as did Jim Konstanty, who won 16 games for the N.L. champs and started the World Series opener. Catcher Stan Lopata, outfielder Bubba Church, pitchers Jocko Thompson and Steve Ridzik and several others played in Toronto on their way to the Phillies.
Philadelphia St. Pat's
Back in the late 1920s, before they became the Maple Leafs, the NHL’s Toronto St. Patrick’s — or St. Pat’s, as they were known — were in serious financial trouble, and entrepreneur C.C. Pyle offered owner Charlie Querrie $200,000 to buy the team and move it to Philadelphia. That deal almost went through, but at the last minute Conn Smythe put together a group that offered $160,000 and convinced Querrie that keeping the team in Toronto was crucial. If not for Querrie’s decision to accept Smythe’s offer, we could have had the Philadelphia St. Pat’s playing in South Philly for the last 90 years.
Flyers-Maple Leafs playoffs
When it comes to the playoffs, the Maple Leafs want no part of the Flyers. The Toronto Maple Leafs may have won 13 Stanley Cup Championships, second-most in NHL history behind the Canadiens’ 24, but the Flyers have won five of six series against the Leafs, including a four-game sweep in the 1974-75 quarterfinals on their way to their last Stanley Cup title. The Flyers also beat the Leafs in seven games in 1976, in six games in 1977 (after losing the first two at home), in seven games in 2003 and in six games in 2004. Toronto’s only series win came in 1999.
2001 NBA Playoffs
The Sixers beat the Pacers pretty easily in the first round of the 2001 playoffs, but the second round against Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors was much more difficult. The 76ers took an 88-82 lead late in Game 7 on Aaron McKie’s jumper before hanging on to win 88-87 when Carter — who had attended his college graduation in North Carolina earlier in the day — missed a left-corner jumper at the buzzer. Remember Jumaine Jones? He scored six of his 16 points in the fourth quarter. And Allen Iverson had 21 points and 16 assists. The Sixers went on to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Lakers. The Raptors didn’t win another playoff series for 16 years.
Drake vs. Meek Mill
You can’t have a more one-sided Toronto-Philly rivalry than Toronto’s Drake vs. Philly’s Meek Mill. In one corner, a castoff from Degrassi Junior High. In the other, an innovative and groundbreaking hip-hop genius who honed his craft in rap battles on the street corners of North Philly and West Philly. The Drake-Meek Mill feud began in 2015, when Meek Mill tweeted out a claim that Drake didn’t write his own raps, and soon after Drake responded by dissing Meek in his project with Future, “What a Time to Be Alive” (not to be confused with the 2018 Superchunk record). Drake and Meek finally patched things up when Drake brought Meek Mill on stage at a show in Boston in 2018. We liked it better when they were feuding.
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1993 World Series
The Phillies hadn’t reached the postseason since 1983 and wouldn’t get there again until 2007. But it all came together in 1993 with a N.L. title and a berth in the World Series against Toronto. The Blue Jays led three games to two and were up 5-1 in Game 6 when the Phils erupted for five runs in the top of the 7th on a three-run HR by Lenny Dykstra Stewart, an RBI single by Dave Hollins and a sac fly by Pete Incaviglia to take a 6-5 lead. Mitch Williams came on in the 9th for the save and after walking Rickey Henderson on four pitches, retired Devon White on a deep fly ball. The Phils were two outs from tying the series, but Paul Molitor singled to center and then Joe Carter lined a 2-2 pitch over the left-field fence to give the Blue Jays the championship. The most famous blown save in Phillies history.
Tie Domi vs. Chris Falcone (who?)
It wasn’t unusual for fight to break out during Flyers-Maple Leafs games. It was unusual for the fight to break out between a Flyers fan and a Leafs enforcer. But it happened on March 29, 2001, when Tie Domi went to the penalty box during a game in Philly and fans began throwing stuff at the hated Domi. He responded by squirting water into the stands. One of the fans he sprayed, Chris Falcone of Havertown, leaned over the glass trying to punch Domi, then fell into the penalty box and began brawling with Tomi when the glass gave way. Domi and Falcone quickly reconciled, and Domi wound up flying Falcone to Toronto for a couple Maple Leafs playoff games. We like the first part of the story a lot better.
Wings vs. Rock
The 2001 National Lacrosse League Championship Game matched the top two teams in the division, the 11-3 Toronto Rock and the 10-4 Philadelphia Wings. You know what happens when the Rock and the Wings square off! Toronto was seeking its third straight championship, but behind MVP goalie Dallas Eliuk, the Wings won 9-8 in front of a league-record 19,409 fans at the Air Canada Centre. None of whom fought anybody on either team.
Gizmo vs. the Argo's
The Toronto Arognauts have won a CFL-record 17 Grey Cup Championships, but in 1987 they lost to the Edmonton Eskimos, largely because of one Eskimo who will always be a legend in Philadelphia. It was CFL Hall of Famer Henry “Gizmo” Williams, who fielded a missed field goal attempt by Lance Chomyc and returned it 115 yards for a touchdown, getting the Eskimos started on a 38-36 win. Two years later, Buddy Ryan signed Gizmo, and he quickly became a fan favorite at West Chester. But when he did a mid-air flip after catching a TD pass from Don McPherson in a preseason game against the Browns at Wembley, Ryan was furious: “He keeps that up, he’s going to be back ice fishing in Canada.” Gizmo was indeed back in the CFL soon after.
2019 NBA Playoffs
Led by the remarkable Joel Embiid, the 2018-19 Sixers are two games away from reaching the Eastern Conference finals for the first time since 2001, and so far they seem to have solved their long-time nemesis, the Toronto Raptors. From 2013-2014 through this past regular season, the Sixers went 6-22 against the Raptors — their worst record against any team in the East. But after losing the opener in Toronto, they’ve won back-to-back games against the Raptors for the first time since 2012. Their leading scorer in those games was old Swaggy P himself, Nick Young. They can take a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series on Sunday afternoon.
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