South Jersey’s Jeff Singer moves from car dealership to Phillies

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It was Mark Singer’s day off from the Northeast Philadelphia car dealership, so he was still sleeping Tuesday morning when his son called. Jeff Singer, a left-handed pitcher who struggled for six seasons in the Phillies farm system, wanted to know what his dad had planned.

“I said, ‘Well, you just woke me up,'” Mark Singer said. “He said, ‘Okay. But what are you doing today? I said, ‘I have to mow the lawn.’ He said ‘Oh, I thought you might want to go see the Phillies game.’ I said ‘No, I’m just going to watch it on TV.’ And he says ‘I’m going to be there so I thought you might want to go.’ I didn’t know what to say. It brought tears to my eyes.”

The Phillies promoted the 28-year-old singer from triple-A to the majors on Tuesday, seven years after signing with the team while working with his father at Dunphy Ford on Frankford Avenue and pitching to a 50-year-old wide receiver. in a South Jersey men’s league. And now he’s a big leaguer.

“He just kept going,” his father said. “The ultimate dream is here.”

Singer worked at the dealership to do whatever was necessary, earning enough money to continue fulfilling his baseball dream. His dad is the used car manager and Jeff cleaned the cars, drove them to other dealerships to trade them in, and collected the cars from the auction.

He was the first person on the lot each morning and had to unlock all the cars, start them and make sure the gas tanks were full before the sales people arrived.

“He liked to keep busy,” Mark Singer said. “It taught him that wasn’t what he wanted to do. You know? He did everything they asked him to do. That’s how he is. You tell him to run through a wall and he will run through a wall.

Singer, who was born in Northeast Philadelphia and raised in South Jersey, pitched at Holy Cross High and Division III Rutgers-Camden. His baseball dream seemed to fade in the summer of 2015 when he was a 22-year-old pitcher in the Rancocas Valley men’s league.

But then the Independent Camden Riversharks needed a replacement for an injured left-handed pitcher. Rowland George, a Phillies scout, had seen Singer in the men’s league and suggested him to the Riversharks.

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“He always believed he was good enough to make it happen. He just needed to be seen in the right place at the right time,” Mark Singer said.

The Phillies signed Singer later that year after creating a buzz in October 2015 by appearing in front of American League scouts at an open tryout in Connecticut. Singer spent the next six seasons in the minors and kicked off the final offseason in Mexico. He came closest to the majors in 2019 when the Phillies brought him to Citizens Bank Park for batting practice.

Reaching the majors would always be a tough climb for an undrafted player who wasn’t on the 40-man roster. But Singer finally achieved it.

“He had ups, he had downs,” Mark Singer said. “Baseball is a mental game. I give him all the credit in the world. He didn’t stop. He believed in himself and just believed in hard work. It happened. I couldn’t be prouder. It’s an incredible feeling.

Singer is a free agent after the season and planned to pursue his dream until he turns 30. He stayed there long enough to be able to wake his father on Tuesday. There are no guarantees how long Singer will stay as he replaced Corey Knebel, who was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. But it’s enough to make those six minor league seasons worth it.

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Singer grew up going to Veterans Stadium with his dad to watch the Phillies. And on Tuesday, he had a ticket waiting in South Philly for his father to watch over him.

“Now he takes me,” said Mark Singer. “I’m more than happy to take the ticket. It’s phenomenal. There are no words to express it.”

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About Eileen W. Sudduth

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