Until March 27, we’ll be counting down the 50 greatest Phillies games of the last 50 years. This is 50 of 50.
And this is No. 25.
THE DATE: Oct. 25, 2008
THE GAME: Phillies vs. Tampa Bay Rays, Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
THE STAKES: Game 3, World Series
THE GREAT: For the first time in my young 13 years of life (at the time), I was going to witness a World Series that the team I idolized was playing in. As a young baseball player at the time, I emulated my hustle after Chase Utley, and tried to copy the swag of Jimmy Rollins, the bat point of Howard and the coolness of Cole Hamels. So, for me, as a 13-year-old kid, this was a big deal. A World Series in Philadelphia? Nope, it wasn’t a dream.
Lucky for me, I had the opportunity of attending the game, tailgating and tossing the football with friends and family beforehand. Both clubs and fans were expecting an 8:35 p.m. first pitch, but plans were scrapped when the skies opened up, delaying the anticipation for one hour and 31 minutes. The first pitch was thrown at 10:06 p.m.
What made this game even more special, Souderton native and 45-year-old Jamie Moyer took the ball for Charlie Manuel, pitching in his first ever World Series game. And boy, he made it count. The man who grew up a Phillies fan battled through 6.1 innings while allowing three runs, doing what every pitcher desires – giving their team a chance to win in the World Series.
As for my heroes, Utley and Howard both went yard – back-to-back – and J-Roll added two hits. Another hero that developed over time – Carlos Ruiz – also went deep to open the scoring.
But it wasn’t the ball Chooch deposited into the stands that sent us home in a frenzy. It was a ball that Chooch hit and traveled no more than 40 feet on the ground to give us a 5-4 win and a 2-1 series lead. Consider that day the beginning of the Legend of Chooch.
The game took nearly four hours to complete, ending in the wee hours of Sunday morning. I arrived at my house at 3:30 a.m. after some traffic madness, got some much needed shuteye, and headed back to the park for Game 4 to do it all over again.