By Jack McCaffery
PHILADELPHIA >> When the NHL thought about placing a team in Baltimore, Ed Snider helped ensure that it was instead Philadelphia.
When the NHL thought it would be a good idea to push the players from Philadelphia around, Ed Snider had other ideas. So it was the Philadelphia players who would do the pushing-around, thank you very much.
When a hockey team from the Soviet Army thought it was possible to walk away from a commitment and hide behind a Red Army Shield, Ed Snider said it wouldn't happen, not in Philadelphia.
When the other teams rebuilt, Ed Snider said that wasn't going to happen, not in Philadelphia.
When Harold Katz wanted to move his basketball team to New Jersey, Ed Snider made sure it stayed … in Philadelphia.
And on, and on, and on the stories went, for decades, about how a Washington-raised businessman could surface as the embodiment of everything Philadelphia.
Snider died Monday. But his legend as a fighter for Philadelphia will live forever.
“He didn't grow up here,” said Dave Montgomery, the Phillies' chairman, a lifelong Philadelphian. “And we like it when people grow up here. I've gotten a few benefits from that myself. He came from Washington, yet he came with a passion for sports that Philadelphia could identify with.
“He came with a passion to win.”
Snider won, presiding over two Stanley Cup teams, the last in 1974. He was in charge when the Sixers reached the 2001 playoffs. He desperately wanted that third Cup, didn't get it. But that was part of his appeal, too. Philadelphia never really minds not succeeding. It minds not trying. And whenever he had to – at a trade deadline, at a free-agency decision, in a stare-down with the Russians – he would try to win.
“He was,” said Pat Croce, the president of the Sixers, under Snider's ownership, “like us.”