Sunday, April 20, 2008

Raise a glass in memory of Johnny Marz

By Steven Lienert
The Phanatic Magazine

When I learned of John Marzano's passing earlier on Saturday, it hit me square in the gut.

I graduated from Central High in Philly, the same place Johnny Marz graduated from high school.

When I learned he was drafted and might play in the majors, I began collecting his cards. Not because he'd become the best ballplayer, but because he was a Philly guy.

I went to the same school he did. He was like me.

He was one of us – and I rooted for him to be the best he could.

He went to Temple University – so do did I, at least for a little while. Marzano and I – we walked the same halls. I never knew him or met him – now I never will – be he certainly had an impact on my understanding what it is to be a Philadelphian.

After he became an announcer on ComcastSportsnet, I was psyched for him. It made me think every Central grad had nine lives. If one thing failed, we'd find a way to be successful, no matter what. As my friend said tonight, “When he talked, it was like John Hancock. I listened.”

As a guy trying to live the dream myself, it touched my heart when Johnny Marz was proclaimed dead on Saturday. We could all disappear in a moment's notice. And that just sucks.

When he was part of the Flyers' pregame telecast last Thursday night for Game 4 against the Caps, Marzano said he knew how to work up a crowd by saying he wanted to don a Flyers' jersey and fight Alexander Ovechkin himself. The crowd behind him went berserk.

If Ed Snider would have come down from the owners' box with a pair of skates and Flyers' jersey with Marzano stitched on the back, you better bet your ass he woulda put them and gone out their and done his duty.

Because that's the kinda guy Johnny Marz was.

He was a Philly guy. He was one of us. He told it like it was. And I'll miss him.

Steve Lienert can be reached at

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