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Yesterday column: Philly athletes in commercials

Do you remember Mike Schmidt and then-Cubs reliever Bruce Sutter doing a commercial for 7Up?

In the 1970s and 80s, Schmidt was among one of the more visible Philadelphia athletes promoting various products. This was the same time when athletes began pitching products, and the famous “Miller Lite” commercials took the sports world by storm.

In this week’s version of my Yesterday column - reminiscing about sports and pop culture in the 1960s, 70s, 80s and sometimes before and beyond - I’ll take a look at former Philadelphia-based athletes who endorsed products from all walks of life.

Thinking ahead ... does anyone remember what a “Schomagie” was? Who was George Anderson who played for the Phillies? And how is “Uncle Charlie” associated with Citizens Bank Park? Finally, did you wear Zubaz pants?

From the Uncola to America’s Turn ... In 1967, 7Up began its “Uncola” campaign to promote its product, mainly behind actor Orlando Jones.

In 1980, 7Up began to employ athletes to signal a new ad campaign. Schmidt, Sutter and then-Pirate Dave Parker participated in a 30-second spot to highlight their “America’s Turning 7Up” campaign.

The spot began with Parker running toward the right field seats, and he eventually caught the pop-up that emerged as a bottle of 7Up. Sutter was then seen drinking a bottle of the soda before Schmidt had one pop up from home plate while he was in the batter’s box.

More Schmidt ... In that same year, Schmidt also did a commercial for Yellow Pages Bell of PA in which he was hitting and fielding. Along with that one, Schmidt had a spot for Lee Jeans, basically fielding ground balls in front of him and to his left and right while he was wearing a pair of Lee jeans.

In 1995, Schmidt launched “Mike Schmidt’s Philadelphia Hoagie Shops,” which was a string of 10 shops in the greater Philadelphia area and beyond that sold hoagies and steak sandwiches. Emmaus hosted the local Lehigh Valley outlet.

Schmidt offered a “Schmoagie,” which was a small hoagie primary for children. Unfortunately, the chain didn’t last long. Schmidt and media personality Howard Eskin did open Michael Jack’s, a bar and restaurant in Center City.

Take A Tour ... Along with Schmidt, there have been several ex-Phillies who have opened an eatery.

At Citizens Bank Park, all of us have visited Greg Luzinski’s “Bull’s Barbecue,” but how many of us know that “Uncle Charlie’s Cheesesteaks” was named after ex-manager Charlie Manuel. When I hear “Uncle Charley,” I think about the character from “My Three Sons,” initially played by William “Fred Mertz” Frawley and then William Demarest.

If you’re in Naples, Florida, you should stop at “Kruk’s Philly Steaks,” named after the iconic player. The establishment features a two-foot cheesesteak. In Sarasota, Florida, there is “Shaner’s Pizza,” created by former hurler Shane Rawley.

Phil-Ins, An Eagle, and Some Flyers ... In 1993, Darren Daulton and third base coach Larry Bowa did a 30-second spot for McDonald’s, promoting their Phillies Zubaz-style glasses.

Daulton yelled a “What?” down to Bowa, and he responded that Daulton was out of uniform for wearing red-and-white striped Zubaz pants. The same design was on the McDonald’s glasses, which could be purchased for 79 cents with an extra-value meal.

By the way, the promoted extra-value meal was a Bacon Swiss cheese quarter pounder. Did you have a pair of Zubaz pants?

In 1975, ex-Flyer Dave Schultz had a commercial for Canada Dry, speaking for the product as well as for a set of Flyers player cans with the photo and some stats on the side. Some of you probably have a few of these - or the set.

Also, Tastykake had a Flyers-based spot in the 70s, which highlights teenagers in Flyers uniforms showing referee signals with the last one being the “T” for Tastykake.

In 1977, ex-Eagle Vince Papale was featured in a United Way commercial, a trend for players back then. The effervescent and popular Papale was a great choice for the commercial.

From The Field to The Set ... In 1980, the Phillies and the Royals had another showdown - this time on TV’s “Family Feud” hosted by Richard Dawson.

Bowa, Schmidt, Del Unser, Dick Ruthven and Garry Maddox represented the Phillies, and Dan Quisenberry, Willie Wilson, John Wathan, Dennis Leonard and Paul Splittorff represented the Royals.

This time around, the Royals won a best-of-five set. And John Wathan is the father of Phillies third base coach Dusty Wathan.

WWF (WWE) Wrap ... Do you remember King Kong Bundy? The New Jersey native, whose real name was Christopher Alan Pallies, wrestled in the WWF and WWE in the mid-80s and mid-90s. Bundy also took his craft to the AWA, NWA and World Class Championship Wrestling.

Bundy lost a steel-cage match to Hulk Hogan during WrestleMania Two, and he was later managed by Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The billed 6-4, 468-pound mammoth also had feuds with Andre the Giant.

He also joined the stable of Ted DiBiase’s “Million Dollar Corporation,” and later went into semiretirement. Bundy reportedly lost his last reported match to Jim “Hacksaw” Duggan in 2017 in Kentucky.

Bundy did a commercial for the Vendex Head Start personal computer. He passed away in 2019 from complications of diabetes at the age of 63.

Readers Write ... Good vs. Good

Hi Jeff!

Another interesting column, as usual! I’m sure we all remember Pedro Morales, everybody’s favorite “good guy” when he took the title from Ivan Koloff.

How many fans remember his classic match on the evening of Sept. 30, 1972? He wrestled Bruno Sammartino at Shea Stadium.

The ring was set up in the infield. They wrestled to a 75-minute draw. I believe there was some sort of curfew involved. The match was rare for the WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) at that time, because it pitted two top-notch “good guys” against each other. I can’t remember anything about the other matches, except that everybody’s favorite, George “the Animal” Steele, was on the card. I believe we paid $10 per ticket.

Johnny Rodz was one of the best “jobbers.” He would routinely be defeated in the preliminary matches by either a main eventer or mid-carder. This was usually done to promote the “new” guy, who was on his way up.

Richard Ochs


A Commercial Game ... In the mid-70s, Coleco Toys released the Pizza Hut Oven. It was an offshoot of the 1964 Easy Bake Oven, as the electric toy actually made small, edible pizzas.

I don’t recall this, but it would have been a lot of fun.

The Chef Boyardee pizza maker kit supplied the ingredients. You can find the item on eBay, but you have to wonder about the freshness of the ingredients, and how you would replace them.

Memory Lane ... Each week, I’ll reflect on a former player, manager, coach or media personality from our yesterday.

In keeping with the theme, we all know Bob Uecker and his media resume well, but do you know George Anderson, who spent a solo season with the Phils and how he had some TV cameos?

Anderson, better known as Hall of Fame manager “Sparky,” made appearances on “WKRP in Cincinnati,” “The White Shadow,” “Airli$$,” and the movie “Tiger Tales.” Uecker played for the Phillies in 1966-67 as a catcher and hit .202 in 96 games, and Anderson played in 1959 as an infielder and hit .218 in 152 games.

Feedback ... Your comments, thoughts, and ideas are always welcomed at tnsports@tnonline.com.