This week we’re asking writers at Phillies Nation to give us their new year’s resolutions for 2017. Today, Corey Sharp.
I fell in the love with baseball when I was five. I was taken to my first game at Veterans Stadium in May 2001, and by the time 2008 rolled around – like so many before me – I was your average 13-year-old kid playing in Philly youth leagues.
By that time – being exposed to the game at such a young age – I was able to understand and grasp the beauty of baseball. On one respect, I saw the beauty of playing the game. Who didn’t like getting their uniform dirty? I found every excuse in the book to slide, dive, and fall, making a mess for my mom when my game was over.
On the other hand, I saw the beauty of attending a baseball game. The drive down Interstate 95, the parking lot, the turnstiles, the consumption of countless hot dogs, the cotton candy vendors, melted ice cream drenching my clothes – the list is never-ending. But the best part of all were the late summer nights in the middle of July, when summer day camp was the only other thing on my mind. That’s when life was good – not a care in the world. I would have slept at the ballpark if I could.
After the 2007 season my love for the ballpark reached the stratosphere. I modeled my game after Chase Utley, who liked getting his uniform dirty just as much as me. I’d watch him during every pitch to see what defensive stance he’d be in as the pitcher wound up. I’d intently watch his on-deck swings, looking for his routine to time the pitcher. And when Utley would make a diving catch or barrel over a catcher, I was part of that roar, among the 45,000 that used to fill Citizens Bank Park.
Not having a license, I’d beg my dad and uncle as much as I could to be there to watch the Phillies. If they couldn’t go, I’d try to tag along with my friends, offering whatever I could for that extra ticket. That was the story until 2011. Sure, the games were so much more enjoyable when Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels and Roy Oswalt were there just about every night. But the vibe of the park alone fed my addiction.
But after the 2014 season I slacked off. Sure, I was older and had other obligations, but in the last three seasons, I haven’t attended nearly as many games as I did through 2007-13. Unfortunately, myself and so many others in Philadelphia let the team influence us. Obviously a contender naturally attracts more people, but we all know why we love attending baseball games.
There’s nothing like the ballpark experience: watching large groups of friends and families enjoy themselves on a hot summer night, laughing at the young kids spilling ice cream on themselves and making a mess of the cotton candy. Then you have your pure baseball fans, who not only go to the park for the amenities, but to learn about the game as well, hoping to take in something of value. I happened to do both, spilling the ice cream all over myself while keeping an eye out for my hero, Chase Utley.
Although it’s unlikely the 2017 Phillies are primed for a deep October run, it still doesn’t and shouldn’t take away my nights at the ballpark. Though the days of summer camp are long gone, my 2017 Phillies New Year’s resolution: Be that young kid again and head down to the ballyard as often as I can. It should be yours, too.