Not that they are the lone demographic reaching for Utley items. Brandreth said that sales numbers this season show Utley is accounting "for almost 40 percent of our player T-shirt sales and that's just really the bread and butter, the red one. So that's pretty good."
While this is the third straight year that Utley has set the pace in merchandise sales at the park, Brandreth noted said "the percentages are even more in his favor this year."
And when the team held an online vote this spring, welcoming fans to pick the bobble figurine they wanted to see given out on Aug. 20, Utley won that contest, too, edging out Pat Burrell.
For someone admittedly still uncomfortable in the spotlight, his profile also is gaining nationally - he leads the majors in All-Star Game voting. Utley and Ryan Howard rated about the same in the 2008 "Q" Score study, which measures how much consumers nationally recognize and like them. And a corporate spokesman for Modell's Sporting Goods said yesterday that Utley's merchandise is starting to sell more outside the Philadelphia market.
Here, of course, Utley's No. 26 is moving off the shelves with the same frantic pace that matches his style of play. "We sell a ton of [Jimmy] Rollins and Howard, and [Utley's totals] double that," said Modell's district manager Chris Pizzo, adding that Phillies merchandise as a whole is a hot seller right now.
"He's by far and away the best-selling athlete in the city right now." *
- Paul Vigna