The Phils went back to the series the very next year (with a new team, as many of the players had been traded...something I still can't reconcile with) but they lost in 1981. Through the remaining 80s, I had been promoted several times in the Calkin's Newspaper Group and was in a wonderful executive position to be in charge of the old Veteran's Stadium luxury, penthouse Skybox. I got to pick about 20 games a year and was able to watch the games from the box with whomever I invited to share the experience. It was wonderful: valet parking, catering, open bar, plush suite, BUT THE PHILS WEREN'T WINNING!!! I'd have traded the skybox for nosebleed seats to only have them win, but in all honesty, it was really a special privilege to have overseen the skybox for several years.
Then came 1993. The Phils were really doing well again. My favorite player was a young second baseman, Mickey Morandini (I don't know why, other than I thought he really had promise). But, as always, I loved all of the Phils. We had Mitch Williams then as a closer... he lived up to his name: WILD THING. Everyone cringed, literally, every time Mitch pitched. Phil’s star starter, pitcher Curt Shillings used to put a towel over his head when Mitch pitched! It was the year Bob and I had started our own business and we were working every night, late into the wee hours of the morning. The Phils were always on our shop TV. I remember one game that went 17 innings, I believe until after 4 AM. There was a woman's voice screaming from the stands..."MITCH, WE LOVE YOU, MITCH" over and over. Bob's brother at the time worked security at Vet's stadium. He said the woman’s screeching kept him up at nights for months!
The Phils beat the Braves in 1993 to win the pennant. The Braves (or Red Sox) are picked to win the series this year (I hope the Phils don't suffer the curse of being on the cover of SI). Bob and I attended the 1993 Phils/Braves game in Philly and we had excellent seats near third base, thanks to Bob's brother, Tommy, who still worked at the Vet parttime. Some really odd things happened that night....first, while we were watching the game, a woman's purse landed at Tommy's feet from the upper level. It contained $26,000.00 in cash, with no identification. Tommy, working security, immediately turned it in... turns out the woman and her husband, from Atlanta. GA. hadn't time to get to the bank after closing their business as they were catching a plane to come watch their Braves. Her husband suffered a mild heart attack while watching the game at the Vet, and she jumped up and the purse filled with money fell. She did get it returned and her husband was okay. Then, Tommy found a little toy replica of the Philly Phanatic (the team's mascot) and he handed it to me. I remember clutching it, with my hand in my pocket, KNOWING that it would help win the game for the Phils. Don't forget, whether you are a baseball fan or not, it's ALL about superstition -- ever see "Bull Durham?")... I still have that little Phanatic toy I hold to this day on important games!
The Phils won the game that night in 1993….Mitch was not pitching... it was Danny Jackson who threw the last pitch. Then there was mayhem... all the police came out on the horses, and protected the field...it was simply SURREAL....it looked like a magical, special place on earth for the next half hour. The Phils stayed on the field... no one left the stadium, and we cheered until we had no voices left! That was the year of "Whoop, there it is!" the Northeast answer to the Braves tomahawk "chop and chant" -- it was wonderful, memorable, and something every baseball fan should experience! But, the night was not over! Tommy had us wait until the Phils were done celebrating in the locker room, and then we went to Legends Bar and Tavern not far from the stadium. While many fans were dancing and celebrating in the streets, Bob and I were at Legend's celebrating the pennant win WITH THE PHILS! About a third of the team showed up and I was beside myself. I could not believe I got to party WITH the Phils on the night they won the pennant to play in the World Series! I stood chatting with Mickey Morandini and his wife for about a half hour. I thought I might be over-doing it. over-staying my welcome, but it seemed Mickey's wife liked talking with me...maybe she was overwhelmed, and I certainly was not acting like a rabid fan, although that was exactly what I was! About 4:30 AM that night, in walked Jim Fregosi, the team's manager/coach. I was about ready to leave, but not before approaching Jim to tell him I thought he was the best manager in Phil's history. He smiled, shook my hand and asked me to sit with him for a few minutes at the bar. I really had to pinch myself! I was chatting with Fregosi about BASEBALL for the next half hour. I finally wished him the best for the series when I left about 5:15 AM. I took home many autographs, my special ticket stubs, and knew that no matter what physical memento I brought home would never match the special memory of that super-special experience. I remember it like it was yesterday!
In 2008, the Phils beat the Rays in the World Series. It was one of the most bizarre series ever, with weather interrupting the games and maybe even the outcome...but it was the Phils who paraded down Broad Street in Philadelphia once more! Then, in 2009, the Phils went back to the series and lost to the Yankees. The Yanks came alive and even though the Phils had enhanced their pitching with a young Cliff Lee, the Yanks prevailed. Then, the Phils went ahead and traded Lee and I don't think I've ever been angrier with management over that decision! You don't let go of a pitcher like Lee! But, they acquired Roy Halladay who last year had a perfect game in the season and a no hitter in the playoffs! And they got Roy Oswalt, who I really like. And they kept Cole Hamels, who was instrumental in winning the 2008 series. But, I missed Cliff Lee. 99% of the Phil’s fans missed him! But, the Phils fell short of the series last year, and I would say that's because of a young pitcher named Tim Lincecum of the Giants who is awesome. I've nicknamed him "The Shark" and I fear him as a baseball fan of an opposing team should. I watched him closely last season, and noticed when he releases the ball, his eyes seem to roll upward, like a shark's eyes do upon attack. I can't believe I've never heard it mentioned in the news! He doesn't even SEE where that perfect pitch is going! But, my favorite pitcher EVER is Cliff Lee, here on the cover of Sports Illustrated!
A few months ago, I woke up early and put the news on...it was about 5:30 AM when I was half asleep and heard that Cliff Lee was BACK WITH THE PHILS! Was I dreaming? I sat up, tuned in, and learned he refused probably up to 30 Million more to be with the Phils, where he felt most at home and most valuable.
Now, he is front and center on the cover of Sports Illustrated, and although the Braves and the Red Sox are the predicted World Series winners for this season, I had to take this opportunity to give my PHAVORED PHILS (I know, the ph thing is overdone!) my own personal shout-out! Baseball fans love to “talk baseball” – I’m not opposed to hearing about YOUR team! :-)
I KNOW there’s a Red Sox diehard fan here and a Dodgers fan, too! (at least!). I can even listen to Amercan league fans, as long as you don't trash the Phils. lol.
I don't think there has ever been a more promising pitching line-up in baseball history than the Phils have this year. What will become of it remains to be seen. I wish all baseball fans a great season for their teams! I'm a true-blue National leaguer, but I respect all teams that get the job done. The Phils will suffer some offense problems this year, so other teams may take advantage of that, but I hope we work on that for next season. In the meantime, PLAY BALL and MAY THE BEST TEAM WIN!