Many others may find it boring and time-consuming to see someone try to hit a small white ball being thrown at him at 90+ MPH. I don’t. Since 1996, when the Yankees won the World Series, baseball has pretty much been in my blood.
I remember staying up past 2 AM to watch the celebrations on TV (even though I had Sunday school at 9AM later that morning). I’ve attended games at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium with friends many times since then.
But during the summer of 2007, a unique opportunity surfaced. My friend John asked if I wanted to catch the Mets play the Phillies in Philadelphia as he had an extra ticket. The game was on August 27 and I knew I had nothing planned that day. If plans were to have come up, they were just going to have to get canceled. I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to see a baseball game outside of New York City for the first time, even if it meant I had to sneak out for an afternoon.
He picked me up that morning and we embarked on the long ride from Queens to Philadelphia. We left in the morning because we wanted to beat the traffic (there was a lot of it in New Jersey) and he wanted to visit a particular street vendor (he even saved it onto his GPS, if I recall correctly).
He also wanted to get a picture from the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, which had a spectacular view of City Hall and other skyscrapers.
I had visited Philadelphia before with my mother a long time ago. I don’t remember much, other than seeing the Liberty Bell. Once we arrived, we visited the particular vendor he wanted to see. No Philly cheese steaks (he had run out) so we had to settle for the more conventional hot dog. A stranger did make conversation with us; he was also a Mets fan who happened to be in Philly that day to see the game. A stranger talking to you about baseball and thinking you are a fan of a particular team because you are wearing their cap is one thing that rarely happens in New York.
We left and drove to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We took pictures from atop the steps and I also took the time run up the steps like Rocky (a couple others did the same). Afterwards, it was on to Citizens Bank Park.
For someone used to the cramped concourses and seating at Yankee Stadium and Shea Stadium, Citizens Bank Park blew me away with how open everything was. We walked past quite a few concession stands and some on-site restaurants. There was some activity area for the kids that offered many interactive games. There were many Phillies fans, of course, clad in Phillies red. There were others wearing light blue Phillies shirts and some in green Phillies shirts. There were plenty of Mets fans present as well; many of them received dirty looks from some Phillies fans, which wasn’t too surprising.
Our seats were in the outfield, near the right field foul pole. I took many pictures before and during the game, as there was so much to absorb around me. I couldn’t get over how different everything was—how there was so much space in the walking corridors and in the seats. Our seats had a spectacular view of the afternoon sky and the setting sun.
I was used to the nuances of Mets and Yankee games, such as the music they play, the types of chants and cheers used, and how they do their respective Seventh Inning Stretches. It was a treat to see how much different seeing a live baseball game in Philly was. I got a kick out of the Philly Phanatic (the Phillies mascot) driving all over the outfield on his ATV (the Yankees would never let anything like that happen in their ballpark) as well as seeing him dance on top of dugouts. They didn’t have a lot of interactive things in between innings (such as trivia contests) and there weren’t as many people singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.” We did see Mets fans get heckled (even a 20-something woman was yelling at some Mets fan) and heard at least one “E-A-G-L-E-S-EAGLES!” chant as well.
We didn’t stay for the whole game, as my friend’s beloved Mets started to get their rear ends handed to them. The final score ended up being 9-2 Phillies, but we were already on the road somewhere in southern New Jersey by the time the game officially concluded.
Even though the Mets and Phillies are two teams I don’t necessarily root for, I still had a fun experience watching them play. It really proved to me how the atmosphere of a baseball game can never be conveyed through television. TV can’t give you the experience of smelling of hot dogs and cracker jacks around you, nor can it give you the feeling of the sun’s warmth enveloping every part of your body. Attending this game has given me an impetus to try and attend more baseball games at other venues. By doing so, I think I will be able to see how baseball truly is America’s past-time.
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