The Phillies waved the “white flag” five years ago tonight
Long known as a symbol of “surrender,” the Philadelphia Phillies waved the “white flag” five years ago tonight in a 19-3 blowout loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
No, then-Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure did not intentionally wave a white towel for the purpose of giving up, but it might as well have been for that purpose that night.
Manager Ryne Sandberg‘s team struggled early, allowing a combined 12 runs to the Orioles over the first three innings, half of which were charged to the line of starter Jerome Williams. Overall that night, the Orioles slugged a franchise-record eight home runs (two off the bat of Manny Machado), while the Phillies were dealt their eighth straight defeat, as well as 17th over their previous 20 games.
Before the seemingly never-ending contest recorded its final out, however, the Phillies’ rough night got even worse. And it all happened with outfielder Jeff Francouer on the mound to try to spare the team’s bullpen from pitching in the all-but-decided game.
McClure tried to contact the bullpen in the bottom of the eighth, with Francouer pitching and the bases being loaded with only one out.
But, no one in the bullpen was on the receiving end of his call.
That was when McClure took to the dugout steps and waved a white towel to try to get their attention. Of course, fans and media watching took it as him “waving the white flag.” The Phillies were down 15 runs at the time. Not even two touchdowns and extra-point attempts in football could get the job done.
The clip still is frequently shared today as a meme or GIF, whenever fans, particularly those of the Phillies, find a reason to do so. And they had plenty of opportunities in the latter half of the 2010s.
The 19-3 loss could have been a whole lot worse, as Francouer only allowed one more run that frame; overall, he threw 48 pitches and allowed two runs through as many innings. Ironically, that was one of the best lines of the five overall Phillies pitchers used in the defeat.