CD's Connect The Dots... Gone Too Soon

It is often said that "only the good die young." Yet, a Phillie phan community still recovering from the loss of friends Tom Clark and Jeff Lamana was struck another stunning blow with the news of the death this weekend of Dave Snyder; arguably the Father of Online Phillie Websites and a giant of a man to all who knew him. Sadly, it is the latest case of a dear friend...gone too soon.

If Tom Clark was the mind of the Phillie phanbase and Jeff Lamana its heart, then surely Dave Snyder was its conscience and its soul. He, probably more than any one individual, was responsible for the incredible success of online Philadelphia Phillie websites and his legacy will endure long after the final good-byes are uttered from all who knew and loved him not only for who he was, but what he stood for. It would not stretch the imagination to say that Snyder influenced a generation of Phillie phans with his vision, honesty and desire to create a Phillie website that was a place where "intelligent reasoned debate could take place and all fans might feel welcome."

Lofty goals indeed, but Snyder's site, PhilliesPhans.com quite often seemed to achieve this goal and developed a community of Philadelphia Phillie phans that stretched clear across the United States and became a "must read" site for Phillie phans everywhere. In fact, for many the phan it WAS the place to get the latest news, be it the Jim Thome signing or the Larry Bowa firing, the Kevin Millwood trade or even the latest Phillie rumors. From his site has branched out several other Phillie sites but most would acknowledge that if not for Dave Snyder and his vision and courage other sites might have found their streams to success much more difficult to navigate.

The internet was a lonely place for Phillie phans once MLB took over professional baseball websites back in 2002. The Phillie site, then called Phanzone, had been a wondrous place, where such phanatics as Phillychuck, Squire, Laaaaazz, Vote for Kalas, allentown, David Criss, Schillingfan and many other incredibly knowledgeable people regularly met to chat and discuss their sports passion, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Oh, and counted in this group was an extremely intelligent and well versed phan named Mvpsoft posting online, a gentleman based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His views were often controversial but always reasoned and sound and he was as respected as any member of the Phanzone Community. He took on the role of anointed Father Figure to many of us more ebullient and exuberant types that regularly shared our views.

Once MLB ceded the rights of major league baseball websites to MLBAM the phillies.com site became a disjointed and unintelligible place and left most phans with nowhere to go and no one to share their baseball passions with. This is when Dave Snyder, aka Mvpsoft, decided to take matters into his own hands and create a site of his own, and paid for entirely out of his own pocket. The site became known [and still is!] as the Phillie Renegade site and was fashioned after Dave's own vision of how a proper site should be created. His Terms and Conditions, created on December 20, 2002, are still honored by all who should choose to become members of this amazing community.

More than almost any other Phillie site, the Renegades became a "must visit" place for all Phillie phans and, oh how extraordinary the discussions were, regardless of the topic involved. This was due in large part to Dave's amazing capacity for creating a place where the talk was not just of baseball, but of politics, religion, philosophy and education. Still, Dave never lost sight of the fact that first and foremost it was a baseball place, a Philadelphia Phillie website, and this team was always at the center of his heart and passion.

Not surprisingly, friendships evolved over the course of time that have lasted even up to now, friendships born of a shared love of a baseball team and a man's desire to provide an outlet for these friendships to grow. Equally obvious was the respect and admiration that Dave received from all his readers, be they friend and foe alike. And make no mistake about it, he had his foes, people who disagreed with him philosophically on issues from baseball to politics.

Still, no great man is without his detractors and even his biggest critics readily acknowledged the respect they had for his principled approach to their differing points of view. Yet, these were more disagreements amongst friends than anything else and Dave had a way of providing comic relief whenever the occasion was warranted and found humor in even the most serious of topics.

Because of the success of the Renegade site, places like Philliesboard and Backshegoes grew out of this success and today the Philadelphia Phillie community is a healthy mixture of the conventional and the non conventional and each has a site designed entirely along those interests. Dave Snyder, along with Jeff Lamana and his Philaphans site, were the pioneers and to them most of the credit is due.

It is with this in mind that the Phillie community is a much sadder place today with the loss of not only Tom Clark and Jeff Lamana but now Dave Snyder. These were indispensable human beings, and in a world sorely lacking in principled individuals, represented the very best that one could hope to know. And know them we did, though in most cases, we never met face to face. Still, Tom and Jeff and Dave were friends of ours and we knew them better than we knew even some family members. In reality they were all like family and each of them is missed much like a family member would be.

On a more personal basis, the news of Dave's death in an auto accident was very painful to me and believe I speak for everyone in stating that his loss will be felt for a very long time. Those of us who knew him are all better for the experience and the integrity he displayed throughout the six years together on the Renegade site will stand as a living and lasting testimony to the way he touched our lives. William Arthur Ward once wrote "a man lays the foundation of true greatness when he becomes more concerned with building his character than with expanding his reputation."

These words were at the very essence of the man that Dave Snyder was and always will be for those of us who admired and respected him. He leaves behind a loving wife, Marlyce, three sons and one daughter. Rachel, his oldest, is the only girl in the family and is an accomplished writer while his three sons are Chris, Jeffrey and Patrick. Chris is the technician for the Renegade site while Jeffrey attends college and Patrick is in high school.

Our prayers and best wishes go out to the entire Snyder family in this time of immense sadness but they should take comfort in the fact that Dave Snyder leaves behind a legacy that will be almost impossible to forget. The Renegade site was regularly referenced by newspapers and online columnists alike and received over 1,000,000 posts in less than five years. Dave was also quoted in a national article about baseball fan sites and major league baseball's desire to shut them down. He was well regarded within the entire Philadelphia Phillie organization and counted as his friends many within the organization.

Even more than that, he leaves behind a legacy of genuine decency and kindness to all those who knew him. He was a one of a kind figure and the Philadelphia Phillie community is much the greater for knowing him and much the poorer with his loss. Like Tom Clark and Jeff Lamana before him, Dave Snyder represented the very best of humanity, a living testament to the spirit of the human condition and but the latest example of a truly great Phillie community friend...gone too soon.

Columnist's Note: Please email all questions and comments to allenariza@earthlink.net and I will attempt to respond. Also check out PhilliesTalk for the latest in Phillie conversation! Thank you! CD from the Left Coast


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