Commentary

An inning to share, a Phillies game to share

I’m lucky to remember most of the big baseball moments that have occurred in my life.

In fact, on Friday afternoon while guzzling a beer in a windy Pattison Avenue parking lot, I was telling my friend that a special element of the 2008 world championship run was that every postseason game found me in a different location, with different people, and I can remember all of that. Game 1 of the NLDS I was at work. Game 2 I was at Citizens Bank Park. And on from there. Every game was special, distinct, memorable.

That goes throughout my life. I remember sitting up high during the Terry Mulholland no-hitter. I remember being in the outfield, awestruck at the scene during Game 3 of the 1993 World Series. I remember being in the car, driving home from my grandmother’s house in Lansdale, Pa., when Mariano Duncan smashed a Mother’s day grand slam against Lee Smith in 1993.

Saturday my wife and I parked the car at the Holiday Inn lot. As I stepped out from the car, I grabbed the gray carrier and fit it around my waist. Then we fit the cozy blue bear suit on my daughter. We eased her into the carrier, then, to finish, placed the infant Phillies cap on her head.

“She’s so cute!” my wife gasped.

And everyone agreed. As we walked into Citizens Bank Park and snapped photos, passersby would tell us our daughter, five months old and at her very first baseball game, was the cutest thing.

I was beaming. Not because my daughter was getting attention (she does a lot … she’s a baby), but because she was resting against me, looking out at Citizens Bank Park the way I probably first looked out at Veterans Stadium as a little boy. This was her first game. Time to experience baseball up close. Maybe one day she’ll feel the way I do when I step into a ballpark, and if so, I hope that what I gave her helped to feed that passion.

Even better, as I had four tickets thanks to running the Phillies 5K, I was able to bring my 22-year-old niece and 14-year-old nephew, the latter of whom is my godson and my little buddy. As we gathered in the concourse I realized I was surrounded by my most favorite people. I couldn’t be luckier.

We stood in food lines as Dan Baker introduced the teams, then as the Nationals stepped to the plate and hit their way out of scoring. And, while waiting for my niece and nephew to return with their food, my wife, daughter and I hung out at Ashburn Alley to eat our grub and get everything situated. “Why don’t you try to stand up against the railing?” my wife asked. “Nah,” I said, “no big deal.”

And it wasn’t. Cesar Hernandez doubled into left field. I heard a scream and caught the ball bouncing off the wall. Howie Kendrick singled. This time I caught a flash of white arriving at first base.

Meanwhile I was wearing a carrier. My wife was holding our daughter. I pulled out formula to make a bottle. These are things I never thought I’d do at a Phillies game.

Odubel Herrera walked. Another cheer. I caught his bat flip. Maikel Franco flew one out to score a run. I clapped. A lead. Great!

My niece and nephew arrived with their food as we finished feeding my daughter. Then we went to the seats. A 4-0 lead suddenly grew, and as we moved to the 300 level and my daughter began crying, growing tired as it was her bedtime, I could hear another huge scream every minute or so. I was giddy. I was elated. But I was focused on her. Let’s get her to sleep. Let’s get this in a bag. Let’s move this over here. Let’s figure this out. 10-0. Okay, time to get to the seat.

I missed about 70 percent of the Phillies’ onslaught in the bottom of the first. My daughter wasn’t very awake for most of it. And yet, without any doubt, it was one of the best days of my life.

It’s hard to imagine the Phillies will put up another 12-spot in an inning anytime soon. It’s hard to imagine the Phillies have that kind of contagious, never-ending, hit-so-much-that-you-end-up-laughing inning again anytime soon. And when you visit the ballpark, all you ask for is something like that to happen while you’re there – whether a no-hitter, a grand slam, a cycle or something unusually wonderful – partly because you can tell everyone, but partly because it allows us to reconnect later with the memory. Years will pass and, one day, we’ll remember “Oh, wow, I was at that 12-run inning game. Geez that was a blast.”

I was at that 12-run inning game.

I didn’t see much of it.

But I couldn’t ask for a better reason.

We left the ballpark after the eighth inning; my niece and nephew went their own way, and we headed back to the car, then to the lobby of the Holiday Inn, to change and feed our very sleepy kid. Once we got her settled, we began our drive back north to New York.

We have plenty of pictures of the night. We have a certificate from the Phillies that marks the occasion. We’ll frame the ticket.

But I was at that game with my niece, my nephew, my wife and my daughter. And it was her first game. Even if she won’t ever recall being there, I’ll be able to tell her the whole thing. How happy I was. How cute she looked. How much fun we all had. And how she was witness to something that we probably won’t ever see again.

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