A Wilson Ramos-inspired look back at memorable Philly sports debuts
Wilson Ramos, the Phillies' biggest trade deadline acquisition, provided a much-needed jolt to the Phillies' lineup Wednesday night in his team debut. Ramos, 31, slugged three extra-base hits — two doubles and a triple — and three RBIs to help the Phils take one of two against the Red Sox with a 7-4 win at Citizens Bank Park (see story).
Ramos' bold debut got us thinking: What are some other memorable debuts in Philly sports history? We also wanted to have a quantified method to this.
We are looking at Philly athletes acquired via free agency, trades or (spoiler) debuts were delayed significantly because of injuries. That said, here we go (AP Images).
Oct. 29, 1982: Moses Malone
Malone won the MVP with Houston in the 1981-82 season. The Sixers made it to the Eastern Conference Finals that same season. In the subsequent offseason, the championship-hopeful Sixers acquired Malone from the Rockets.
In his Sixers debut, Malone scored 21 points and pulled down 17 rebounds in a win over the Knicks. He would go on to average 24.5 points, 15.3 rebounds and two blocks in his first season in Philly and repeat as the league's MVP.
Adding the back-to-back MVP winner was enough to push the Sixers over the top, as they reached the NBA Finals and took down the Lakers in four games. Malone, whose "Fo, Fo, Fo" playoff prediction was just one game off, was named Finals MVP (AP Images).
Oct. 6, 1992: Eric Lindros
Lindros was a generational player and the Flyers traded a king's ransom for the right to draft him in the summer of 1992. In his first game, Big E made quite the impression.
No. 88 scored his first career goal to galvanize a two-goal, third-period comeback as the Flyers opened the 1992-93 season with a 3-3 tie with the Penguins. He went on to score 41 goals in his rookie season.
We all know Lindros' story. An ugly divorce from the Flyers, but time heals all wounds and he's now, rightfully, in the Flyers Hall of Fame. Lindros, alone, created so many hockey fans in Philly (AP Images).
Oct. 5, 2000: Jeremy Roenick
Roenick helped the Flyers open the 2001-02 season with a 5-2 win over the Florida Panthers by scoring a goal and two assists in his first game in the orange and black.
The Flyers inked Roenick to a five-year, $37.5 million deal in the summer of 2001 and "JR" went on to win the Bobby Clarke Trophy (Flyers MVP) after leading the team with 46 assists and 67 points.
Roenick finished his Flyers career with 106 assists and 173 points in 216 games. The Flyers ended up trading Roenick to the Los Angeles Kings one day after signing Peter Forsberg in August 2005 (AP Images).
Feb. 23, 2001: Dikembe Mutombo
Already owning the NBA's best record, the Sixers traded for Hawks All-Star Mutombo in February of 2001 to fill the team's hole at starting center, as Theo Ratliff (who was sent to Atlanta in the deal) was scheduled to miss several weeks with a wrist injury.
Mutombo provided the Sixers with a dominating force in the paint from the jump, recording 17 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks against the Pistons in his debut.
Mutombo, who averaged 13.9 points, 13.7 rebounds and 3.1 blocks in the postseason, helped Allen Iverson lead the Sixers to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Lakers in five games (AP Images).
March 31, 2003: Jim Thome
Thome signed with the Phillies on Dec. 6, 2002, and instantly changed how baseball viewed the Phillies. His six-year, $85 million deal was the team's free-agent signing ever.
The slugger changed the culture surrounding baseball here, and in his first game as a Phillie, the first baseman went 3 for 4 with a double and RBI in the Phillies' 8-5 win over the Marlins.
Thome was inducted onto the Phillies' Wall of Fame in August 2016 (AP Images).
Sept. 12, 2004: Terrell Owens
T.O.'s preseason debut in 2004 could have even made this list after hauling in an 81-yard TD from Donovan McNabb on his first play in an Eagles uniform, but his regular season debut was even more impressive.
Against the division rival Giants, Owens recorded eight catches for 68 yards and three TDs en route to a 31-17 win. That was just the start of a magical season in Philly, where the Hall of Fame WR had 77 receptions for 1,200 yards and 14 TDs. Owens went down with an ankle injury at the tail end of the regular season, but returned to have nine catches for 122 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.
Owens' Eagles tenure was short and came to a frustrating end, but that 2004 season was a ton of fun (AP Images).
Oct. 5, 2005: Peter Forsberg
The Flyers lost, 5-3, to the New York Rangers in the 2005-06 season opener but to little fault of Forsberg, who picked up two assists in his debut and jump-started an absolutely ridiculous beginning of his brief career here.
Forsberg picked up 12 points in his first six games as a Flyer, 28 points in his first 13 games and 36 in his first 19. He finished with 75 points in 60 games.
"Foppa" signed a two-year, $11.5 million contract with the Flyers as a free agent but suffered foot injuries and eventually was traded during the 2006-07 season (AP Images).
Oct. 4, 2007: Danny Briere
In his first game in the orange and black, Briere scored twice, including the game-winner in the final two minutes of regulation as the Flyers opened the 2007-08 campaign with a 3-2 win over the Flames in Calgary.
Briere signed an eight-year, $52 million contract with the Flyers on July 1, 2007, as the team went star-hunting after finishing as the NHL's worst team in 2006-07. He instantly became a fan favorite here and everyone remembers his 30 points during the Flyers' Stanley Cup Final run in 2010. It didn't take long for Briere to change the fortune of this franchise either (AP Images).
July 31, 2009: Cliff Lee
After winning the World Series in 2008, the Phillies were in the market for an elite starting pitcher in the summer of 2009 and landed Lee on July 29, 2009, two days before the trade deadline, and, boy, was his debut something to remember.
Lee carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning and pitched a four-hit, one-run complete game in a 5-1 win over the San Francisco Giants. Lee also clubbed two hits, including his first career two-bagger. He went 5-0 with 39 strikeouts in 40 innings and a 0.68 ERA in his first five starts as a Phillie in 2009.
The Phillies lost to the New York Yankees in the World Series, but Lee's debut definitely qualifies as one of the most memorable in Philly sports history (AP Images).
April 5, 2010: Roy Halladay
Halladay introduced himself to Phillies fans by striking out nine over seven innings of one-run ball during an 11-1 rout of the Washington Nationals at Citizens Bank Park. Doc also helped his own cause, picking up his second career RBI.
Halladay became the first Phillies pitcher since Steve Carlton in 1982 to win 20 games and won the NL Cy Young Award. He also threw a postseason perfect game. He no-hit the Marlins on May 29, 2010, and then threw a postseason perfect game against the Reds.
Yeah, Halladay was a special, special pitcher. His debut was a good one too. Halladay died Nov. 14, 2017, in a plane crash and was inducted onto the Phillies' Wall of Fame earlier this month (AP Images).
Sept. 9, 2013: Chip Kelly
The Chip Kelly experiment was a total disaster, but when it was fun, it was fun.
Chipper's debut was a fun one. The Birds racked up 445 yards, ran 53 plays in the first half and beat the Washington football team, 33-27.
Kelly's fast-paced offense didn't prove to last in the NFL but in its first game, the Eagles had the Washington team catching its breath a ton (AP Images).
Sept. 11, 2016: Carson Wentz
Imagine not thinking a quarterback prospect mocked at the top of the draft will turn out to be a top-20 player at his position, trading out of the second-overall pick due to that projection and then getting torched by that QB in his first career game. That's exactly what happened to the Cleveland Browns.
With Jared Goff going to the Rams at No. 1 being a near sure thing leading up to the 2016 draft, the Browns decided Wentz wouldn't be the one to end Cleveland's long search for a franchise quarterback. Howie Roseman pounced on the Browns' misread of Wentz, trading up from the No. 8 overall pick.
In his NFL debut, Wentz was 22 of 37 for 278 yards, two TDs and no picks en route to a 29-10 win over the team that traded away the opportunity to draft him. Wentz was the MVP favorite before going down with an ACL injury last season and, assuming health, has top-five QB talent (USA Today Images).
Oct. 26, 2016: Joel Embiid
Not only was this a memorable debut, but Embiid's first NBA bucket was an iconic moment itself.
After sitting out his first two seasons with a broken foot, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 draft finally made his NBA debut in the Sixers' season opener against the Thunder at the Wells Fargo Center. Under four minutes into the game, Embiid pump-faked at the three-point line, took two dribbles in and hit a signature turnaround jumper at the foul line over Andre Roberson for his first career bucket.
Playing on a minutes restriction, Embiid recorded 20 points, seven rebounds and two blocks in 22 minutes of playing time. The Sixers lost to the Thunder, 103-97, but more notably was Embiid already flashing superstar potential that the franchise and its fans waited two years to see. Turns out, he was well worth the wait (USA Today Images).