‘Play until you can’t play no more:’ Philip Archer prepares for final season as a Saluki
February 7, 2021
In early May 2020, Philip Archer faced the decision of either graduating and leaving Carbondale or to use his one additional year of eligibility offered by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
One thought that stuck with Archer during this time of contemplation was one that comes from his dad: “Play until you can’t play no more.”
Archer, now in his third year with the Salukis after two years of junior college play at Olney Central College, did not start his baseball career in the Southern Illinois region.
Archer grew up in Greenville, Ind., which is just more than a three hour and 49 minute drive mostly on Interstate 64 for him.
“There is where I learned everything, baseball, education, everything,” Archer said.
Archer is the middle child of three boys but sports is no joke in their household, his older brother competed in track and field in college.
“He threw shot and disk at college at the University of Indianapolis,” Archer said. “ [My] younger brother he actually was at John A. Logan and he transferred to Oakland City University, which is probably about an hour, hour and a half west of where I live.”
Despite the fact that his father played college basketball, Archer said that his athletic abilities come from his mother.
“Dad, he played basketball in college for a few years,” Archer said. “ I like to say I got my athleticism from my mom; she’s an athletic woman.”
Archer said that his love for baseball came early in life because he found success on the diamond.
“It was probably about the only sport I was good at,” Archer said. “I found a love for baseball early, I think it was because I had a lot of success with that compared to other sports.”
Archers’ memories as a young baseball player extend back to when his dad coached, where he remembers him as a great coach and never being too mean.
“I was lucky enough that my dad actually coached me all through travel ball as we liked to call it when I was younger,” Archer said. “I just remember all the times when he would come out on the mound and say,’Listen Philip, you throw one more ball and I’m going to have to pull you.”
On the mound, Archer was not one that would blow hitters away with heaters rather he was a lefty who was smart in the way he pitched.
“I used to be a little filthy on the mound, definitely didn’t throw hard, I was just a little crafty lefty, “ Archer said. “My last year of pitching was senior year of high school.”
After his time in Greenville, Ind., Archer found himself in Olney, Ill. at Olney Central College under head coach Dennis Conley.
“I really liked the coach. I really wasn’t a big recruit out of high school,” Archer said. “Didn’t have a whole lot of offers, mostly just junior colleges, Olney was a really good place for me.”
Looking back at his time in Olney, Archer said upon arriving there, he was not the same caliber of player he is now.
“Walking in there, I was certainly not a Division-I baseball player,” Archer said. “I definitely molded into one over the years.”
Archer had success in his time with the Blue Knights, earning Great Rivers Athletic Conference and Region 24 player of the year awards in his sophomore season.
“It’s always nice to be acknowledged for the things you do throughout the year,It was a really good year [my] sophomore year,” Archer said. “ I played really well, it’s all because of the coaches there and the work that we put in there.”
From there, Archer moved to Southern and for junior outfielder Justin Weber this is when he remembers the first time meeting Archer.
“I remember his swagger, he definitely has a presence when he’s on the field,” Weber said. “He’s got his wristbands and his sunglasses on.”
Across 18 games last season, Archer hit for a .344 average with five doubles, one triple, and one home run letting his presence be known on the field.
Both Weber and Archer were performing well in their respective positions, before the MVC cancelled the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Archer believes both of them will be back where they were last season.
“JT is a phenomenal hitter. Just yesterday we were joking about it,” Archer said. “We had a little intersquad and he jacked an absolute bomb and later that day I hit one too, and we were like man every time he hits a homerun I hit a homerun.”
Weber said that even though they are different kinds of hitters they approach it the same way when it comes to the mental aspect.
“We are two completely different kinds of hitters, but I think we kind of approach the mental side of it the same,” Weber said. “He’s got a pretty powerful swing, but he plays it to his advantage.”
While most people think about the bat when it comes to Archer, head coach Lance Rhodes said the way Archer plays first base helps the infield.
“Phil, he’s a really steady defender at first base, he makes our infielders better,” Rhodes said. “He does a really good job of picking the ball out of the dirt.”
As a senior last season Archer had the choice to come back and finish what he had started or graduate and start his life after school, but one quote from his dad rang true in coming back.
“My dad obviously is a mentor and he always made the quote play until you can’t play no more,” Archer said. “That was his big thing, Coach Rosie called me and said would you want to do this, there is unfinished business as I like to call it.”
The COVID-19 pandemic ended several seniors final year in their respective sports. The NCAA then chose to extend eligibility and time clocks for those players.
When looking at the fact of the players that chose to come back and play a fifth year this season, Rhodes said it’s big in many ways.
“One, they were some of our better players from a performance standpoint,” Rhodes said. “All the leadership skills that those guys bring, […] they’re extremely hard workers.”
Looking back on the way he wants to be remembered by Saluki fans, Archer wants to be known as a highly energetic guy.
“I want to be remembered as a high energetic guy, positivity and energy mainly,” Archer said. “Me and John Lock [a sports information director in the department] we have a little saying: a lot of energy and a lot of enthusiasm.”
Although the Saluki baseball schedule has not been finalized yet, Saluki fans have the bat of Archer to look forward to this season.
Sports Reporter Adam Warfel can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @warfel_adam.