Opening Day 2008
Last year on Opening Day I sat in my cubicle at Vanguard (fortunately my boss was relatively supportive of my Phillies Phetish) and watched the entire game using MLB Gameday. It was the most beautiful day for baseball… both of the ballgirls were wearing shorts! And even though the Phillies lost it was so exciting to be watching baseball again… even sitting in a business suit under fluorescent lighting.
This year, things were a little different. Not only did I get to watch the Phillies Opener in person, I got to do it from a chair on the third-base line!
Admittedly, it was a long day. My ballgirl comrades and I were at the stadium at 5:45 a.m. (which meant getting up at 4 a.m.) to do radio interviews on WIP, WMMR and WPHT and TV interviews with CN8, ABC, and Fox. We stood with Greg Luzinski and talked about our love of BBQ. We sat down with Mitch Williams and the WIP gang and discussed our hatred of line drives. We stood in front of new Phillies merchandise, next to the fiery grill at Bull’s BBQ, and behind upscale food from Harry the K’s. Mostly though, we just tried to stay warm!
Amazingly enough, we weren’t even the first ones at the ballpark. Some diehard fans camped out overnight to get standing room tickets for Monday’s game, and by 8 a.m. a line had formed that stretched almost the entire length of the stadium.
As the line grew outside, we spent our time inside sleeping (OK, that was just me), hanging out, watching the Today show, and discussing important current events (Andy Roddick is engaged?!?).
By 12:30 crowds were beginning to form on the concourse and butterflies were beginning to grow in my stomach. Praying that I didn’t throw up on the field (or any of the players), I walked a few laps of the stadium and tried to calm down.
Citizens Bank Park is a very unique place, full of dichotomy. The smells of cheesesteaks and Schmitters waft through the concourse, and yet, CBP was voted the #1 ballpark for vegetarian food by PETA. As countless 20-somethings tailgate, play wiffle ball, and have crazy parties outside, teeny toddlers run around with ketchup smeared across their faces, hugging their Phanatic dolls inside. Everything traditional about America’s favorite pastime comes together with modern lights, music, and big screen TVs. It’s such a special place to spend an afternoon.
As the minutes ticked down to the first pitch, Christy G. and I stood behind home plate and took it all in. The Golden Knights parachutist who left a red-smoke trail in his wake… Mayor Michael Nutter throwing a perfect strike using the glove he brought with him from home… Dan Baker announcing the lineups of both teams to the cheers and jeers of the infamous Philadelphia fans.
Finally, Christy and I took our places on either side of the Phanatic for the National Anthem. I couldn’t believe that I was less than three feet away from some of the most incredible baseball players in the world. I know that is a moment I will remember for the rest of my life.
As soon as I sat in my chair on the left-field line, the butterflies in my stomach disappeared. I was in my element, and even though the Phillies lost, it was just great to be watching baseball again… and this time to be out of the office, in the company of the best sports fans in the world.