After a career spent on the field, Gabe Kapler moves into the dugout as the Phillies’ new manager.
Gabe Kapler is a bit amazed that he—growing up Southern California cool—is enraptured by Philadelphia. “The identity of negative Philadelphia is misplaced,” says the 42-year-old Phillies manager, a longtime outfielder (more recently for the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers) in his first Major League managing job. “The real identity is one of boldness. It is gritty, but also relentless. The fans expect us to play with a bold level of effort, and that is what we intend to deliver.” Kapler came to town, and one of the first sporting voices he heard was Eagles coach Doug Pederson. “He didn’t say, ‘Well, we’ll aim for 8-8.’ He said, ‘No, we’re going to be winners,’” says Kapler. “That is what the coaching staff intends to provide: the support and foundation so that our players can become the best versions of themselves.” At the Eagles NFC championship game, he was inspired. “Fans and people from the Eagles would come up to me and say, ‘This is what it could be for you—the support, the enthusiasm, the positive energy.’ I am thrilled to see how all the sports teams in Philadelphia are coming together to support each other, not just the players, but the clubhouse people and the ticket folks.” Kapler sees that in his neighborhood too. “Northern Liberties and Fishtown... there are few places like that anywhere,” he says. “Those neighborhoods are incredibly eclectic. How can you not be inspired to do your best here?”