Monday, June 06, 2011

Phillies Games, Old and New

We attended two games in Pittsburgh this past weekend. Pittsburgh is 5 hours away from where I live, but it's still the closest National League city to us. Since son #2 is a big Phillies fan, it's a reasonable choice.

We weren't alone. I'd guess that, conservatively, about a third of the people attending the games were Phillies fans. Red shirts were everywhere.

When I was a kid, nobody wore t-shirts or jerseys with the names of their favorite players. Now everybody does. And when I was a kid, everybody bought and waved pennants with the name of the team on them. Now nobody does.

I still remember my first game really clearly. It was on July 9 1967 at Connie Mack Stadium in Philadelphia. We got there early, sitting in our great front-row seats that cost only $3.25 each. During "pepper" before the game, a ball bounced near the little railing, and my father reached down and picked it up! I had my first real official major league baseball, and I never got another ball again since then.

Back in '67 the Phillies had some good players (Johnny Callison, Richie Allen, Cookie Rojas, Jim Bunning) but overall they were pretty mediocre. But on July 9, against the Cardinals, they produced practically the best first game a ten-year-old could see. In the 8th inning, Richie Allen hit one of the longest home runs ever at Connie Mack Stadium to tie the game. And then, in the bottom of the 10th, Tony Gonzalez pinch-hit the winning home run. Perfect!

But back to 2011. PNC Park is a really nice place to watch a game. Even the cheap seats were pretty good, and there is a spectacular view of the Pittsburgh skyline in the outfield.

We got there early for both games. On Friday we hung out in left field and watched batting practice. Ryan Madson, who has a bit of a reputation for being a jerk, confirmed it for us when he deliberately teased fans by pretending to throw them a ball, and then throwing it on the grass instead and laughing.

I'm glad to say that not all the players are like that. On Sunday we got there early to watch batting practice, and hung out by the right field line. There were a lot of pitchers shagging fly balls, including J. C. Romero, Kyle Kendrick, José Contreras, Danys Báez, and Cliff Lee. Danys Báez came over and tossed son #2 a ball, and then later J. C. Romero signed it.

But then Romero did something really classy: there was another kid with a Cliff Lee jersey that he wanted Lee to sign, but Lee was standing about 60 feet away. So Romero took the jersey over to Lee, had Lee sign it, and then returned it to the kid. Now there's a player who knows how to treat fans.

The Phillies lost the first game, but won the second. We got to see Chase Utley make a terrific play in the 7th to save the game, and a great double play by Wilson Valdez. We also got to see Halladay slide at home to score a run, something he apparently hasn't done since high school.

All in all, a fun time in Pittsburgh. Son #2 thanks J. C. Romero!

1 comment:

Curt Cameron said...

You see, if they sell you a jersey with a player's name on it, they get to sell you another one when that player moves on.