- Written by Barry Sparks Barry Sparks
Bob Bogart’s friends tell him he’s the real Phillies Phanatic.
No, he doesn’t dress up in a green mascot costume, ride an ATV around the outfield, or taunt opponents. But he does fit the description of a Phillies fanatic.
Consider the definition of the word fanatic: One having excessive zeal for or an irrational attachment to a cause or position.
“Since I’ve watched or listened to 5,558 consecutive Phillies games, I guess it’s safe to call me a fanatic,” says the 60-year-old Glen Rock, Pennsylvania, man.
Entering the 2022 season, he hadn’t missed a game since Aug. 7, 1986. That’s more than 35 years. And, before he missed that game (of course, there’s a story behind that), he had a three-year streak.
So, in 38 years, Bogart has missed just one Phillies game.
Bogart’s not the casual fan who typically catches part of a game. He’s there from the first pitch to the last pitch. He religiously follows the Phillies on their West Coast trips, through rain delays, day-night doubleheaders, extra innings, and every other imaginable situation.
When Bogart worked, he scheduled his vacation days to correlate with the Phillies’ West Coast trips. He would use vacation time to leave work early when the Phillies played midweek afternoon games.
He typically attends six to 10 Phillies games a year.
To document his incredible streak, the retired government employee keeps score of every game.
“Keeping score of the game is a practice my grandfather, Kenneth Tebo, taught me,” says Bogart, who grew up in Blossburg, Tioga County. “He was a Phillies fan as well. He introduced me to the Phillies in 1966 when he took me to Connie Mack Stadium when I was 5 years old.”
So, how did Bogart miss that game on Aug. 7, 1986?
One of his goals was to see the Phillies in every National League ballpark. His girlfriend, Lauri, who is now his wife, invited him to see the Phillies play at Wrigley Field in Chicago. Her parents live in the Chicago suburbs.
They drove to Chicago on a Wednesday, and the Phillies had a game against the St. Louis Cardinals that night. Bogart listened to the game on KMOX that evening and figured he would be able to hear the following afternoon game on the same station.
The next afternoon, however, turned out to be a frustrating one, as even the 50,000 watts of power of KMOX wasn’t enough for him to pick up the game on his radio. So he sat in his future in-laws’ house waiting for CNN Headline News to give him updates every 30 minutes. He was miserable not knowing the details of the Phillies game.
The following afternoon, he was much happier sitting in Wrigley Field with Lauri, watching the Phillies and keeping score.
His dedication hasn’t gone unnoticed by the Phillies. In 2000, he was named “Fan of the Century” as a result of a contest the club conducted on its website. The Phillies bestowed the honor on 10 fans, one born in each decade of the 20th century. Bogart, representing the 1960s, was honored in an on-field ceremony on Opening Day.
Technological advances have made Bogart’s quest to watch or listen to every Phillies game much easier. When he started his streak in 1986, satellite television, the internet, and streaming capabilities were rare or didn’t exist.
At the time, Mike Schmidt, Darren Daulton, and Steve Carlton led the Phillies. Since then, hundreds of players have worn the Phillies uniform. Last season, only three Phillies were born before Bogart’s streak started.
Bogart admits his streak would have ended years ago if not for technological advances. Those advances have helped him keep the streak alive while on business trips to Hawaii, England, and New Zealand. On those trips, he would either watch the games on a delayed basis (but always before the next game) or wake up in the middle of the night to watch the games on his computer.
Does Bogart feel any pressure from his streak?
“Not at all,” he responds. “The Phillies are part of my life and have been for as long as I can remember. Incorporating them into my life is no more pressure than taking a vitamin every day.”
How long will the streak continue? And, how might it end? Bogart doesn’t have to worry about being knocked out of the lineup by back spasms, groin pulls, or being beaned. But there’s always the chance the streak might end.
“I really think it would take a life-threatening situation, like me being in an accident and ending up in the hospital, for the streak to end.”
Yet, the streak did survive an emergency surgery and hospitalization in 2019. After falling at home, Bogart was transported to York Hospital, where he underwent knee surgery.
After surgery, he asked his son, Ryne, to bring his scorebook from home. Later that night, he was able to watch the Phillies game and keep score.
Another time, his daughter, Christy, helped save his streak. His flight to Chicago was diverted to Rockford, Illinois, because of thunderstorms.
The plane was sitting on the tarmac while Bogart listened to the Phillies game on XM Radio. He lost the signal and called his daughter at home. She held the phone up to the television so he could hear the audio from the game.
Once the plane started to fly toward Chicago, he was able to pick up the signal on XM Radio.
His wife, Lauri, and family and relatives are very supportive of his Phillies addiction.
“Everyone is great,” he says. “They understand what it means to me. They go out of their way to accommodate me.”
It helps that his wife is a baseball fan who grew up rooting for the Chicago Cubs. When she and Bogart met at work, baseball was one of their common interests.
“Lauri’s the first woman I ever met who could explain the infield fly rule,” laughs Bogart.
Predictably, Bogart’s love of the Phillies isn’t limited to watching or listening to their games.
He also owns an impressive collection of Phillies memorabilia. Bogart has every Phillies yearbook from 1968 to the present, all Phillies Topps baseball cards since 1954, and every issue of Phillies Report, plus loads of other items.
Bogart has compiled a weekly Phillies Updater, which he emails to friends upon request, for more than 20 years. It includes a recap of the week’s games, the television schedule for the upcoming week, statistics, notable events, oddities, and trivia.
Even though the Phillies have lost more games than any other National League team in history, Bogart’s enthusiasm hasn’t waned.
“I’m not tired of following the Phillies, and I can’t imagine a scenario in which I would be,” he says.
“I savor every nugget of Phillies news I can find during the offseason, and I look forward to every Phillies game. I can’t imagine not knowing what’s happening with the Phillies.”
Spoken like a real Phillies fanatic.