Every since I raced to the door on Sunday mornings on Glenview St. off Roosevelt Boulevard to beat my father to the morning Inquirer when I was just learning to read at Solis Cohen Elementary School, my day hasn’t been complete without a Phillies update. Dad passed on his love of this team to my brother and me, just as a slew of returning WWII vets had done, as the Whiz Kids helped soothe the trauma of that war. He’d tell me tales of sneaking into Shibe park as a boy to watch games with my uncles. His heroes – Ashburn, Roberts, Simmons, Hamner, et al., became my treasured baseball cards that I would buy with my first allowances at the drug store on Tyson and Bustleton.
My zeal for the Phillies was so great, that I committed my only crime at the age of 6. My dad kept a collection of silver dollars in the same drawer in his bedroom chest in which a calendar picture of Marilyn Monroe lay temptingly under some undershirts. Not sure how many dollars I took, but it was enough to buy a whole box of cards- the entire series of Topps baseball cards, circa 1952.
Proudly, the next day, I showed off all the Whiz Kids cards to my Glenview street stick and step ball buddies. But my glee was short lived. I guess the druggist snitched, for my mother called me inside and scared me with a fake call to the Philadelphia police to get me to confess my crime. I returned all of the cards. Ironically I spent many years as a public defender for juveniles. She kept the deed quiet from my dad. His only concern was who was looking at the Marilyn Monroe calendar portrait.
The Phils’ fortunes have bookmarked each day since. No matter where I’ve been, I’ve known before sleep what they had done that day.
I’m not as bitter about 1964 as many fans became over the collapse. Great movie, sad ending. I can remember leaving for Penn State the day Bunning beat the Dodgers to give the Phils a 6 1/2 game lead with just 12 to play. I could barely hear the radio feed up there in Happy Valley, but the Pittsburgh fans that filled West Halls sure let me know the results of those fateful 10 games. I just attended a reunion party with friends from Marple-Newtown’s class of that year, and there was substantial reminiscing about that team and the year of hope turned sour.
When I went to Ft. Bragg, North Carolina in ’69 I listened to static filled accounts on 1210 radio when the sun went down to assuage my homesickness. In 1980 I staged a one man drunken soiree through the streets of Raleigh after McGraw sealed the long awaited title deal.
Last week, 56 years and 500 miles removed from those days on Glenview St, this haggard attorney slumped into Court with the glow of the Phillies pennant somehow blanketing the gloom our current economic troubles. I reflected upon those early days during lulls and doodled lineups from the 50’s on my notepad. Go Phillies. An unbroken umbilical chord to my hometown.