oregon adventures

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Ode To Citizens Bank Park

A couple of weeks ago, my son and I flew to Philadelphia to see two Phillies games in my new favorite place on earth- Citizens Bank Park.
I’ve been a Phillies fan since the late 60’s when I lived in Newtown Square for 2nd grade. But in all of those years I had seen the Phillies in Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, San Diego, Atlanta, and even Seattle, but never in Philadelphia. This year I got the MLB package on cable and recorded every Phillies game and would watch the highlights and think how great it would be to see a game at Citizens Bank Park. One day it hit me- why not? Found reasonably priced flights on Southwest, found great seats on StubHub, room at the airport Embassy Suites, and off we went.
I got there at midnight on Thursday and Jeffrey was arriving Friday evening. So Friday morning I got up early and drove down to Dover Delaware to see the state capitol. Went inside and walked around the chambers- very nice building. I think that makes 8 capitol buildings I’ve been inside. Then I ran from the capitol to Dover Downs speedway and back for 6 miles. Back to Philly in time to pick up Jeffrey and go to the south side and walk until we found Geno’s and had cheesesteak with cheese whiz.
Saturday morning we went to Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, and the new Constitution museum with life size statues of the signers you can walk around and pose with. Then we drove to the art museum with a detour to go over the Ben Franklin Bridge to Camden. Went to turn around and ended up on a street that looked like a ghetto movie set. Got back to Philly as soon as possible. Went through the Philadelphia art museum- very impressive.
Then it was time to get ready for The Game! For Saturday’s game I got first row baseline seats right by the rolled up tarp.
The most amazing seats I’ve ever had a sporting event. But first we went shopping at the stadium store for Phillies shirts, hats, etc. Did I mention it was perfect blue sky and mid to high 70’s all weekend? What can I say about Saturday’s game except “magical”. First row is amazing! That stadium is amazing! 45,000 people all cheering for the Phillies- there are no words to describe what that meant to me. A lifetime of never fitting in- suddenly I belonged- I was with my kind! Oh yeah, Werth, Howard, Ibanez all hit home runs and the Phillies won.
Sunday we slept in and made it to the stadium early for a 1:35 start. Walking from the car I saw a metal first base that said “this is where first base was in Veteran’s stadium.” I ran over to the metal third base and told Jeffrey “I’m standing where Mike Schmidt used to stand!” Someone heard me ran over and threw a pitch to his son at the metal home plate. Took a picture with the Mike Schmidt statue and then into Citizens Bank Park again. What an incredible stadium. We walked around the whole place looking at plaques and displays. Then to our seats 4 rows back from first base. Could see the Phillies players up close. Saw the Phanatic up close also. Got to the ninth inning and the Phillies were losing 6-3. Most of the 45,000 had stayed and it got loud when Polanco singled, Utley doubled, and then Howard singled them in. 6-5 with no outs and a man on with Werth up. We were all standing and yelling as he fouled off several pitches. Then Boom- over the 409 foot mark for a game winning home run. Everyone screaming and high-fiving, couldn’t have scripted that better!
The stadium parking is set up perfectly- 10 minutes and we were on the road. We went back to the south side and walked to Marra’s Italian restaurant. Got a booth and the waitress saw our Phillies shirts and giant smiles and wanted to hear details of the ninth inning. Great food! Then I saw on the rental car map that highway 13 did a loop through north Philly. So we set out to drive that and ended up on Germantown Road to Chestnut Hill instead. Road signs are weak there. Looked on the map and saw I-476 went back to the airport area so we got on that. As everyone knows, there are reasons for everything. A couple exits later I saw a sign for Newtown Square and knew what I had to do. We drove into town and I found a house on the main road Hwy 3 that perfectly matched my memory. Texted Dad and he answered that he thought it was on 320 and had a 12 foot driveway. We drove up and down 320 a little bit and all the houses had steep driveways. The other house matched my foggy 2nd grade memory though, so I said goodbye to it and at that moment Miranda Lambert’s “House That Built Me” came on the radio. Drove away from Newtown Square fighting back the tears but finally able to start letting go of the last place my parents were together.
Monday morning we decided to run. When in Philly you have to run Fairmont Park by the art museum, so we did. Ran 7 miles past Boat House row and along the river and back and finished with the “Rocky” run up the museum steps. Had to wait in line to get a picture with the Rocky statue. I had planned to go to Trenton and see the capitol, but after Camden we were leery of going to New Jersey again so we decided on Valley Forge instead. Ate lunch at a nice Italian place in King of Prussia and the toured Valley Forge. Then it was time to go. Jeffrey and I flew to Denver together and then took separate planes from there. Right now I’m looking at creative financing alternatives to be able to go to the World Series if they make it. But I had the best vacation ever a few weeks ago.