My first Phillies game was on May 14, 1987 at Veterans Stadium. The Phillies were playing the Braves in the second game of an early two-game series and were coming off a 10-5 loss the night before.
I was less than a month shy of my sixth birthday and my family was living in Pennsauken, NJ. My first memories of the sport were looking at my dad’s baseball cards. I distinctly remember having a 1986 Topps Glenn Wilson card, because I remember thinking how funny it was to see a baseball player wearing glasses.
On this night, I recall my parents making a big deal about it being my first game. That made me feel excited, but I wasn’t really sure what I was getting into. For the first of many times, my mom warned:
“Bring a jacket, it’s always colder at the stadium.”
Of course, she was right. I grabbed my pullover windbreaker and headed out the door with my dad to my first Philadelphia Phillies game.
I wish I had a recollection of awing as I walked up to the hulking concrete mass known as the Vet…or recounting the smell of ballpark food…or my first glimpse at the expansive green turf. No, I only really remember one thing from the game – Ozzie Virgil hit two home runs off Phils starter Kevin Gross. I left the game thinking, “that catcher for the Braves is really good.” Not to mention Juan Samuel and Mike Schmidt also hit dingers for the home team that night.
Though I don’t remember it, knowing my dad, there’s no doubt we left the game early “to beat the traffic” (announced attendance: 17,705). Too bad, since we probably missed the Phillies score the go-ahead run in the bottom of the seventh off a Jeff Stone single. We definitely missed Steve Bedrosian come in to close out the Phillies 5-4 win for his fourth save of the season. “Bedrock” went on to win the Cy Young Award that year and led all of baseball with 40 saves.
The team overall was much less impressive in 1987, finishing in fourth place with a 80-82 record. The club fired manager John Felske after a 29-32 start and replaced him with Lee Elia – a distant relative of mine – who eeked out a 51-50 record the rest of the season.
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