Posted by Brian Michael, Fri, December 26, 2008 01:16 PM Comments: 5
I was destined to be exposed to the virus that infects all Phillies fans by my father I’m sure while I was still in the womb. My earliest memories growing up in the late 1950s are falling asleep to the sound of the Phillies on the radio. The console radio was for some reason kept in my bedroom, and that’s where my dad listened to the games. So…I listened to them too. If he was trying to brainwash me, it worked! I guess he thought that by having an only child who was a girl; brainwashing me was the best way to “grow” a Phillies fan!
When the Phillies transitioned into broadcast TV, so did we. We had only one television (black and white, of course) and if I wanted to watch TV, it was usually the Phillies! I remember that one year our vacation to the Jersey Shore was planned to coincide with taking in a game at Shibe Park. I vividly remember that my dad parked his car in someone’s driveway for the game. I don’t remember who won the game, however!
To be closer to the Phillies, I chose to attend Penn. I attended many games in September and April, enjoying every one. Of course, the Phillies were always as close as my radio and TV. After graduation, I moved to northern New Jersey, and experienced my worst homesickness for the Phillies, not my family! I was glad when they made the playoffs and I could sneak my radio to work to listen to the games.
I returned to Penn in 1980 to obtain my master’s degree. What wonderful timing! I was in Philly for that wonderful World Series winning season. I was in my apartment at 40th & Chestnut Streets when the Phillies announced that World Series tickets would go on sale the following day at 9 AM. I grabbed my sleeping bag, some cash, and headed off on the Market and then Broad Street subways to score some tickets. I slept at the Vet and got some of the last tickets available, on the top row in the outfield (who knew those were bleacher seats without chairs?) and my dad and I had a blast. We were there! At the Phillies World Series! And we saw them win a game! I can also say that thanks to my dad, I was at the parade that ended up at JFK Stadium. He told me I had to go, even though I had class that day. And I went saying – who knows if I’ll ever have another chance to attend another Phillies celebration parade. It was a wonderful decision and one that I never ever regret!
Through the ensuing years, my dad and I have continued our obsession with the Phillies. We watch them through good and bad, through managers that my dad hurls expletives at, and years where we were just so close and years that we were just so bad. We never ever gave up on the Phillies, not even with Mitch and Joe Carter. My dad always says that the Phillies would have never been in the World Series to start with in 1993 if not for Mitch Williams. My dad has forgiven him for that one pitch; me — not so much.
My dad and I have been lucky enough to experience many Phillies moments together in person. We attended one of the Phillies-Oriole World Series debacles in 1993 with the Wheeze Kids. We attended a playoff game against Atlanta in 1993 and a World Series win against the Blue Jays. We were at the All Star game at the Vet. I have taken my dad on Phillies “Road Trips” to see the Phillies play at Wrigley, in Colorado, at Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards always fully dressed head to toe in Phillies gear. Together we attended that magical day at Cooperstown when Michael Jack Schmidt and Richie Ashburn were inducted into the Hall of Fame. We will never forget the “sea of red” and that we were part of it!
Somehow I managed to get tickets for Opening Day of Citizen’s Bank Park. My dad was just recovering from a hospitalization for pneumonia, and was determined to attend. The weather that day was cold and rainy, but off we went anyway at my dad’s insistence. My dad said – “If I die there, it would be OK. I’d be at the Phillies game.” That’s my daddy!! We were the first two people in line to enter at the gate by Ashburn Alley. As we stood in the cold dreary weather, who came out with his entourage but Steve Carlton who was coming out to unveil his statue. My dad literally ran over to Steve Carlton, and said, “I’ve always wanted to shake the hand of a hall of fame pitcher. Congratulations, Mr. Carlton.” I held my breath, but Steve just very nicely said – thank you sir. I’m not quite sure my dad has yet washed that hand!
My dad is now 81 years old, and I thought our chances of attending another Phillies World Series together had passed us by. I have tried all of my connections for tickets to no avail. Then I saw your contest, and hope that you will agree with me that my dad Tom Ziegenfus is the greatest Phillies fan and reward both of us with one more chance to attend one more World Series game together. Thanks for reading our story.