Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Very Phillie Birthday

Here is a story that I probably have told some of you, but it is very appropriate because it happened seven years ago tonight. It really shows that there are good guys in sports.

Because of my disability, I was eligible for a Make-A-Wish trip. Maybe you know of my obsession and it may seem obvious that I chose to go to my first ever game in Philadelphia which also happened to be the final year at Veterans Stadium. What made it even better was that the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers was on my birthday.

So, we made the journey down Broad Street from our hotel near Chinatown and were escorted in the press entrance. On our ride down the elevator, an older gentleman who was riding with us proceeded to show me his National League champions ring from the 1950 "Whiz Kids" team, and I knew that this was going to be pretty awesome to say the least.

As we walked onto the field at the Vet, I gradually collected autographs. Soon, I had collected Larry Bowa, Gary Varsho, Dan Plesac, Pat Burrell, and Jimmy Rollins. We have some great pictures especially of our family with Rollins and Plesac on the Astroturf. This is extremely exciting as you might imagine, but I was slightly disappointed not to see Jim Thome around the field. He was my favorite Phillie at the time, but I later learned that he was injured and couldn't play that night.

The game was excellent, and Brandon Duckworth won the only game that he would win for the Phillies for the rest of the season. My name appeared on the scoreboard with all the other birthdays which was very cool although they did have my age wrong. We also met the Phanatic and enjoyed the entire atmosphere. However, at the end of the game I wanted to find the players' parking lot. You never know who you might run into. So, with quite a bit of effort and the help of some security guards, we eventually located the parking lot, and spoke with the security guard there. Unfortunately, he informed us that he thought that Thome had already left for the night, but he would go and check the clubhouse. We sat around watching all of these very expensive cars pull out of the driveway and waiting. The man eventually came back and said that he had already left for the night as he had expected. We started walking back towards our car which was quite far away in the basically empty parking lot when the man started shouting for us to come back. I bet you're thinking about the fairytale ending where we go running back and enter the gate that Jim Thome is standing behind and he happens to drive my favorite car, a Hummer H2 (sorry my environmentally conscious friends). Of course, you would be... correct. Although our suspicions were never confirmed, we think that the security guard called Jim to see where he was, and he came back to meet us. This officially cemented Jim Thome as one of the nice guys in baseball, at least in my mind.
Photo by  Keith Allison on Flickr

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