Wednesday, April 07, 2004
As I watched the images of Veterans Stadium imploding on Sports Center a few weeks ago…
…and my thoughts turned towards hot summer nights at Veterans Stadium. Back then going into Philly was a big deal: I grew up in the suburbs. (Downingtown, in Central Chester County, to be exact.) (My hometown is the sort of place that most people want to live in: quiet, peaceful and pretty. And green. As an aside, just having a yard is something that, after having lived in a major city for the last nine years, I’ve found that I really miss. Urban life has its advantages, but there are things that you lose.) When I was twelve and thirteen, a city like Philadelphia was a massive, scary metropolis of gray concrete: towering buildings and traffic and people bustling all about. The weather here in Pittsburgh turned nice a week or so ago (high-60s - low-70s, blue skies) after a brutal winter and the transition to summertime has begun. As I was walking on my school’s campus last week and I smelled freshly-cut grass and felt the sun on my face and I remembered lazy summer days when I was a kid: swimming in the pool, playing baseball in the backyard all summer, etc.
Phillies games at the Vet are a big part of those summer memories: My grandfather, who lived in Philadelphia for years, took me to Steve Carlton Night back in '89, which was a thrill. To be there when the Phillies honored a legend like Lefty... After that we went to Geno's for a cheesesteak and cheese fries. (Still one of the best meals I've ever had: nothing beats Genos.) My grandfather also took me to J.D. Drew's second game against the Philles in '99: I still remember the outfield crowd hurling Drew's fifth inning home run ball back onto the field amid thunderous cheers.
My Father took me several times too. Father-Son trips to the ballpark are part of growing up: My Dad & I bonded a lot sitting in our seats at the Vet, my dad explaining what was going on to me (until I finally caught on to why someone could still score on a sacrifice fly). We saw some great games: Von Hayes blasting a walk-off home run against the Giants in '90, sticks in my mind, as well as several Barry Bonds moonshots (I probably saw Barry hit three or four home runs).
Those are some of my memories. I'm sad to see her go, but Citizens looks like a palace, a gleaming cathedral of baseball:
I'm sure plenty of Fathers & Sons, and Grandfathers & Grandsons, will have the same memories I have. It's what being a kid is all about.