10 athletes who have had two stints in Philadelphia
With DeSean Jackson returning to the Eagles, it got us thinking about other prominent athletes who left town and then returned. Some did little in their return. Jim Thome hit just five homers in a forgotten second stint with the Phillies in 2012. Others were far better the second time around, like Bernie Parent. Let’s take a look at 10 of the most interesting Philadelphia athletes who had two (or more) stints in town.
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The ultimate story of a player returning to his former team. Foles was the Eagles’ third-round draft pick in 2012 and had a historic 2013 Pro Bowl season, with 27 touchdown passes and two touchdowns, then was traded to the Rams in 2015, backed up Alex Smith with the Chiefs in 2016 and returned to the Eagles to back up Carson Wentz in 2017. He became a folk hero in Philly with his postseason performance, earned Super Bowl MVP honors after leading the Eagles past the Patriots, got the Eagles to the palyoffs again in 2018 after another Wentz injury, and this week changed teams for the fourth time in five years, signing a four-year, $88 million deal with the Jaguars.
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Richie Allen spent his first seven seasons with the Phillies, earning Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 and making three All-Star teams, hitting .300 with 177 homers during that span. He bounced around from the Cards to the Dodgers to the White Sox, making four more All-Star teams and earning MVP honors in 1972 with Chicago, before returning to the Phillies in 1975. But he hit a career-low .233 in 1975 and just .249 in his second stint with the Phillies before playing one final year with the A’s in 1977 and calling it a career. He remains one of only 10 players in Phillies history with 200 homers and his .290 average as a Phillie is third-highest of that group, behind only Chick Klein and Cy Williams.
Jason Babin’s first tenure with the Eagles was pretty uneventful. After unsuccessful stints with the Texans, Seahawks and Chiefs, he signed with the Eagles in 2009 and had 2 ½ sacks before moving on the next year to the Titans. But after his 12 ½-sack breakthrough season, he became a coveted free agent, and the Eagles brought him back. He had 18 sacks – most by an Eagle since Clyde Simmons had 19 in 1992 – and made the Pro Bowl. But things went bad in 2012 both for the Eagles and for Babin, and he was released 11 weeks into the season with just 5 ½ sacks. He drifted to the Jaguars, Jets, Cards and Ravens but was out of the league by 2016.
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Ricky Bottalico came up in the Phillies’ system and spent his first five seasons here, handling closer duties in 1996 and 1997. He had 34 saves both years and made the N.L. All-Star team in 1996. He spent 1999 and 2000 with the Cards and Royals before returning to Philly in 2001. Curiously, that’s the exact same route Nick Foles took back to Philadelphia. Ricky Bo spent two ore years with the Phils before single seasons with the Cards, Mets and Brewers. His current whereabouts are unknown.
Allen Iverson’s return to the 76ers in the 2009-2010 season was was really more of a farewell for the all-time 76ers great and fan favorite than anything basketball-related. But the crowds sure loved seeing AI finish out his career in a 76ers jersey. In the first 10 ½ years of Allen’s Hall of Fame career here, he averaging 28.3 points and 6.2 assists per game, before 3 ½ years in Denver and then single seasons in Detroit and Memphis. He only played 25 games in his return to Philly and farewell to the NBA, averaging 13.9 points and 4.1 assists.
Jackson, already the 4th-leading receiver in franchise history, returns to Philly after three years with the Redskins and two with the Buccaneers. D-Jack began his career with the Eagles as a second-round pick in 2008 and in six years averaged 59 catches, 1,019 yards and 5 ½ touchdowns. He has the second-most 50-yard TDs in NFL history – behind only Jerry Rice – and he’s led the NFL in yards per catch four times, including last year at 32 years old. Since he entered the NFL in 2008, Jackson has 10,261 – fifth-most in the NFL during that span. And now he’s back.
His first stint in Philly didn’t last long enough. He was traded to the Phillies just after the All-Star break in 2009, and he went 7-4 in 12 starts as the Phils won the N.L. East and beat the Rockies and Dodgers in the postseason before losing the World Series to the Yankees. That December, the Phils traded Lee to the Mariners, and he finished the 2010 season with the Rangers before the Phils re-signed him that December. Lee spent the last four years of his career back in Philly, going 41-30, making two All-Star teams. His 2.94 ERA is lowest by a Phillies pitcher (minimum 500 innings) over the last 50 years.
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The Flyers claimed 22-year-old Bernie Parent off the Bruins’ roster in the 1967 expansion draft, and he went 70-81 but with a 2.77 goals-against before getting traded to Toronto during the 1971 season. He was back by 1973, and in 1974 and 1975 he had two of the finest years any goalie has ever had, winning back-to-back Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies, fashioning league-leading goals-against marks of 1.89 and 2.04, piling up an NHL-best 12 shutouts in each season and leading the Flyers to their only two Stanley Cup Championships. Parent is one of only three players in NHL history – and the only goalie - to win back-to-back Conn Smythe Trophies. The others are Mario Lemieux (1991, 1992) and Sidney Crosby (2016, 2017).
Mark Recchi was already an All-Star but still only 24 years old when the Penguins traded him to the Flyers late in the 1992 season in the deal that brought Kenny Wregget and Rick Tocchet to the Flyers. Three years later, the Flyers traded Recchi to Montreal in a deal that brought John LeClair to the Flyers. And four years later, he was traded back to the Flyers in a deal that sent Dainius Zubrus to Montreal. He stayed with the Flyers through the 2004 season before finishing his epic 22-year career with the Hurricanes, Penguins again, Thrashers, Lightning and Bruins. In his two stints with the Flyers, Recchi played in 602 games, made six All-Star teams and had 232 goals and 395 assists on his way to the Hall of Fame. Despite playing less than half his career with the Flyers, he’s ninth in team history with 627 points.
Trotter is that rarity who not only had two stints with the Eagles, he had three. A third-round draft pick in 1998, he was an All-Pro middle linebacker by his third season. But after a contract dispute following his Pro Bowl 2001 season, he signed a seven-year, $36 million with the Redskins. He was released after the 2003 season and rejoined the Eagles. After beginning the 2004 season as a special teamer and backup, he regained his starting spot and helped the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He was released after the 2006 season and after a brief stint in Tampa in 2007 was out of football in 2008. When Stewart Bradley suffered a season-ending injury in 2009, Trotter returned to the Eagles for a third time and finished his career where it started.