Monday, March 22, 2004

Disabled Veterans | I was on the wrong side of the plane to see the aftereffects of yesterday's implosion of Veterans Stadium, but those in the starboard seats reported as we descended to Philadelphia International a few hours afterward that the resulting pile of rubble was impressively flat. Most of the news reports detailing the destruction note the wildly divergent emotions of people connected with Philadelphia sports -- players, coaches, and fans -- and that's not surprising, given the fierce loyalty we have toward our teams. (Though I was a little disturbed by the photo on the front page of today's Inquirer of the South Philly resident who was in tears.)

While I salivate over the prospect of watching games in Citizens Bank Park, I'll admit to a little bit of sadness over the Vet's demise, though not because it's where the Phillies won their only World Series or because it's where I witnessed the epic 15-14 game of the '93 Series. No, I grieve for the Vet because it's where I saw my first game. It was the summer of 1977, and my dad took me and my brother to an afternoon game against the Braves. We sat in right field, in the 600 level, I think, and Bake McBride looked close enough to touch. After watching countless games on television, experiencing the scope of the stadium with my own eyes and ears was breathtaking. The bloom came off the rose soon enough, especially as I began attending games in cities with real ballparks, but all fans hold a special place in their heart for the day they took a seat and watched the best baseball players in the world practice their craft.


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