Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The night I fell in love with baseball
Growing up in Philly, my parents had divorced before I was born, so I was raised primarily by my grandparents for my first 5-6 years of life. My Mom worked all day and went to school at night to try and make it as a single mom in the 1970's when it wasn't cool. We lived with my grandparents in a duplex in Northeast Philly. It was a summer night in 1976, I was 4 and my grandfather took me to my first major league baseball game. It was the Phillies vs. the Astros and Steve Carlton was the pitcher. It wasn't long til I realized that Carlton is considered one of the top 3 left-handers of all time. He struck out a ton of Astros that night. My grandfather said in the car on the way down to Veteran's stadium, "the Phillies are lousy, except when Carlton is pitching". I can only guess that's why he took me to that game on that night, but I'll forever be grateful.
I was only 4, but I will never forget walking up to the ramps of the Vet for the first time, It was all bigger than life. The lights, the smells, the hot dog, the people, the major league players, the Philly Phanatic, I mean I fell completely in love. It got in my blood, in my veins, I couldn't wait to play this game. I became a Phillies fan that night and now forever. I've also adopted the Reds now that I have lived here in Cincinnati so long, but Philly remains a big part of my heart.
Baseball got me through some tough times in life. When i was really hurting and angry as an adolescent, I always had baseball. I used to tape "This week in baseball" and memorize it before the next episode ran the following week. I played with a ball, a glove and a wall for hours and hours and hours. Anytime whiffle ball or stick ball was happening, I wanted to be there. I turned out to be a pretty decent player. Excelled through junior and high school and played through college. i loved the smell of baseball, I loved the feeling of manicured grass under my feet, i loved getting dirty and I absolutely loved playing under the lights. I get goose bumps just remembering.
Well, the Phillies kicked the Dodgers butt and are now going to the World Series most likely to face Amercia's sweethearts, the Tampa Rays, but my heart will remain with Philly. Nostalgic feelings are running through me tonight watching the Phillies clinch the National League pennant. I will never forget the night I fell in love with baseball. Thanks, grandpop, rest in peace the Phillies are BACK in the SHOW!!!
(insert the Rocky theme song here) peace,