THEY EACH had approximately 1 minute to address the crowd of 30,000-plus that filled Citizens Bank Park to celebrate the Phillies' first World Series title since 1980, 1 minute to put the entire season in perspective.
Brett Myers invoked Lou Gehrig.
Jamie Moyer invoked Martin Luther King Jr.
Chase Utley quoted everybody else in the city of Philadelphia.
"World champions," the second baseman said, his voice booming over both the stadium loudspeakers and live television and radio. "World f------ champions!"
And with that, the ballpark exploded.
It was billed as a day for a city to celebrate its champions, but it turned into a day for the champions to celebrate their city. As a teeming mass of red-clad fans lined Broad Street 10, 20, 30 deep - the city's initial estimate put the crowd at 2 million - the Phillies found themselves overwhelmed.
"These fans here, these people - I've absolutely been amazed, really," said manager Charlie Manuel, decked out in a black, pin-striped suit. "Totally unreal. I can't even explain it to you."
It started around 11 a.m. with officials from Budweiser hoisting Pat Burrell's bulldog, Elvis, onto the Clydesdales-drawn carriage that would later carry the 9-year veteran and his wife at the front of the parade.
Burrell, dressed in black with his hair slicked back, spent the next hour holed up in a SEPTA bus, chatting with police officers as fans surrounded it hoping to catch a glimpse of the longest-tenured Phillie.
The procession was supposed to last 90 minutes, but by the time the caravan rolled into Lincoln Financial Field for its next-to-last stop, close to 3 1/2 hours had elapsed.
"The parade was by far the most impressive thing I've ever been a part of," Utley said. "I heard a lot about it, I heard how much fun it was going to be, how many people were going to show up, but I never expected that."
As it turned onto Broad Street, toilet paper and ticker tape fluttered as William Penn hovered atop City Hall against a solid blue sky. They chanted for Charlie at South Street and Cole Hamels at Christian.
As Burrell passed through the intersection at Federal, the chorus went "Please Sign Pat! Please Sign Pat!"
Near Jackson, a kid with a Phillies T-shirt and a backward hat spread himself across the branches of a tree, a modern-day Zacchaeus pounding his chest while making eye contact with Brad Lidge and Scott Eyre.
They sat on the statue of Nobel laureate Guglielmo Marconi at Oregon and on the foundations of the overpass at I-76 farther south.
All of it made for a fitting end to a season that started exactly 7 months ago.
"We're just so happy in the moment," Hamels said. "Right now, this is just a roller coaster, and we are going to have to ride it all the way to the end."
Once inside Citizens Bank Park, the talk centered on both the fans and the desire to add a couple of more banners to the giant "2008" that was unfurled in centerfield.
Myers paraphrased Gehrig's famous speech at Yankee Stadium, saying, "Today, I am the luckiest man in the world."
The Jacksonville, Fla., native thanked the fans for standing by him during the trials and tribulations of his season, which saw him emerge from a 3-week exile in the minor leagues to go 7-4 with a 3.06 ERA after the All-Star break.
"This city, I consider it home," Myers said. "You guys have won my heart."
Where they go from here remains to be seen.
In fact, not even an hour after the end of the ceremony, the Phillies announced they would not pick up the club options for outfielder So Taguchi and reliever Tom Gordon.
While neither move came as a surprise - Taguchi batted .220 during the regular season and did not get an at-bat during the World Series; Gordon will spend the offseason rehabbing from elbow surgery - it was a reminder that the 2009 Phillies will be a different team.
Burrell, whose seventh-inning double in the final game of the World Series set up the Phillies' winning run, will be a free agent after this season. He was unavailable to talk to reporters after the parade, but has said in the past he would like to return.
Moyer, who spoke of a dream he had about winning the World Series, is also a free agent. After the festivities, the Souderton native, who attended the 1980 victory parade as a fan, said he had a good feeling that he would return to the Phillies.
"I hope I am back here next year," said Moyer, who went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA during the regular season and allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings in the Phillies' 5-4 win over the Rays in Game 3 of the World Series. "And I sense there is a good feeling I may come back here. I have not talked to the club at all, but we'll see what happens."
For one final day, though, the focus was on the present.
Several players spoke of their desire to repeat.
Shane Victorino: "This is only one of many."
Hamels: "There's only one thing I want to do: go down that Broad Street parade again, and again, and again."
Nobody, however, summed it up better than Utley.
"Chase's comment caught everybody by surprise," Moyer said. "But you know what? It is pretty awesome. I'll leave it at that."
World f------ champions. *
For more Phillies coverage and opinion, read David Murphy's blog, High Cheese, at http://go.philly.com/highcheese.