Joe Bonsall is 25 percent of the Oak Ridge Boys and 100 percent a Philadelphia Phillies fan.
The Oak Ridge Boys are scheduled to perform Saturday, Oct. 5 at Paradise Cove inside the River Spirit Casino Resort. During an interview in advance of the show, Bonsall was asked to name his Mount Rushmore of Phillies players.
“Mike Schmidt for sure,” he said. “I would have to put Pete Rose up there because when Pete Rose came in 1980, he took a team that was really, really good and made them great. He injected the exact amount of energy that team needed. They always lacked energy to me. Even this team this year. As hard as Bryce Harper tried this year, and he did, the Phillies are still kind of lackluster in their approach to the game. I never see the real emotion out of them.
“But Pete Rose and Mike Schmidt for sure and Steve Carlton. Carlton would have to be on the Mount Rushmore. It’s a toss-up between the others, to be honest. Maybe one day Bryce Harper will be the fourth one, if he continues.”
Bonsall said Harper is going to be with the Phillies for a long time because of a 27-year contract. He was exaggerating a bit to make a point. Harper signed a 13-year deal.
“He’s going to be there until he’s my age,” Bonsall said. “I don’t know about the fourth one (on Rushmore), but I would have to have Rose and Carlton and Schmidt.”
Bonsall was raised in Philadelphia, which explains his passion for the Phillies and other Philly sports teams, but he lives in Tennessee now and is a Titans season ticket holder. He only gets to go to about half of the Titans’ games because the Oak Ridge Boys are busy touring, but he said his family uses the tickets when he is not home.
“I watch them pretty closely, but the Eagles still have my heart,” he said.
The Eagles beat the Patriots to win Super Bowl XXXIX. Bonsall said he got texts from family members and every old friend in Philly during the game. He cautioned them not to celebrate prematurely: “Not until (Tom Brady) is in street clothes and out of the stadium.”
It was the Eagles’ first title since winning the NFL Championship (pre-Super Bowl era) by beating Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers in 1960. Bonsall, who was 12 then, said he attended the game with his father.
Bonsall was 35 when the Philadelphia 76ers won an NBA championship by sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers.
“They had such a good team there for a couple of years, but unfortunately we had the Celtics and the Lakers, who were even better teams. So the Sixers kept (falling a little short) and then, all of a sudden, in ‘83 they did break through.”
Bonsall recalled a 1980 Lakers-Sixers NBA Finals game when Magic Johnson started in place of injured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at center and scored 42 points to clinch the series for LA. Bonsall recalled that Lakers fan Jack Nicholson sat courtside at the spectrum and the crowd, in unison, chanted something not so nice to the actor.
“Welcome to Philly, Jack,” Bonsall said. “But he was cool. He got up and bowed and waved to everybody and smiled and then everybody applauded.”