I have no doubt that I am the world’s greatest Philly fan because I have been so since I my father took me to my first baseball game in 1965 when I was 9 years old. My father was born in Lancaster County in 1909 and had been a Philly fan since he was a kid. He was a USN Captain in WWII and traveled the world. He met my mother in Greece and the result was my brother and me.
I grew up in Greece with my divorced mother and went to visit my father for about a month every second summer or so. In ’65 he took me to the above-mentioned game in San Fransisco where he had moved to. The Giants of that era were one of the great teams of the game and my father had become a Giants fan. By chance, or at least I think so, they were playing the Philadelphia Phillies.
I asked him a lot of questions, not understanding the game of baseball. South Philadelphia Navy Hospital was my birthplace and I had had no recollection whatsoever of the city – having moved away when I was less than a year old. Regardless, the Phillies won with an excellent relief appearance by, I think, Jack Baldwin or Baldshun or something.
I was a fan then and 43 years on – I am still a die-hard fan.
What you need to understand is that I did not move to the US until 1974. That did not stop me from listening to whatever game I could on Armed Forces Radio in Greece and later Spain, very few of which were the Phillies. I usually had to read the Stars & Stripes or the Herald Tribune to see the linescore to be able to follow the team.
Through the late 60s and early 70s I followed the Phillies from afar. In 1974 I moved to San Diego and was able to see the team on one of their rare visits to the coast. By the late 70s I was also able to watch them on TV as they became more successful and would be broadcast more often. Then of course the miracle of 1980 and the pennant of 83.
I lived in DC from 84 – 86 at which time I made my way to the Holy Land (at the time Veterans Stadium) to watch the Phillies at home. It was a kind of Hajj. They lost with stars like Rick Schu and Von Hayes. I had even thought that if somebody knew my story it might make an interesting sidebar for the Inquirer. Alas, I met no one except for two girls I suspect were professionals at a downtown bar near my hotel and have never been there since. It did give me a chance to see the town of my birth and the birth of American democracy.
In 1990 I moved back to Greece and remained a loyal fan as always. I followed the deranged “America’s Most Wanted” teams by the Herald Tribune. Armed Forces Radio long gone. Twelve years ago I moved to the Czech Republic. This year I finally was able to watch my first Phillies game in 18 years thanks to the miracle of the internet and mlb.com.
My 10 year-old son is now a Phillies fan though he has never stepped foot in the US, much less Philadelphia. His hero is J-Roll and he wants to play baseball. If nothing else, I have succeeded in passing the torch to another generation. This I have done from afar.
Thank you if you’ve had the patience to read this long-winded story. Obviously, I do not live in Philadelphia and could not attend the game even if I won. I wrote this for myself and because I probably am the biggest Philly fan.