Final days at the Vet remembered

By Kendall Neil
October 2, 2003

Final innings. It was ringing in the ears of everyone who walked through Veteran’s Stadium, a.k.a. the Vet. The Philadelphia Phillies had lost the Wildcard race, but there was still something they had to play for, the Vet and the Philadelphia fans. Appropriately enough, the last two series were against the Florida Marlins and the Atlanta Braves. For those of you who aren’t baseball fans, as history goes, Atlanta was first in the National League East followed by a constant, nail-biting race between the Marlins and the Phils. I was lucky enough to be able to be at the first two games of the last series ever in the Vet. So yes, I was one of the lucky who got to see the lights shut off for the last night game ever in Vet history on Friday night and I was one of the 58,303 fans to grace the Vet on Saturday. However, it wasn’t until the game ended on Saturday when I really got hit: this would be the last time I would be at the Vet; not just this season, but ever. Then I realized this isn’t just about football or baseball; it’s about me and every single Philadelphia fan out there.

So yeah, we may have the reputation for being some of the worst fans, but as fans sat in the downpour of showers while the “All-Vet” team was named (again, the “All-Vet” team is a team comprised of Phillies from seasons past and present made to form a team in honor of the Vet,) you could feel the meaning this place had for so many people; first dates, marriage proposals, school outings, and for some area Philadelphians, their playground. After the end of Saturday’s game, which the Phillies won, 7-6 in the 10th inning against the Braves, it was hard to leave. People sat in their seats, staring at the field, taking whatever pictures they could take. Tears were falling from people’s eyes harder then the rain that had hit earlier in the game.

The Vet is our field of dreams. Sure, people say that the only thing that Philadelphia teams are good at is choking under pressure. Believe me, we’re aware of this…we’ll be the first to admit it and inform the players that they aren’t doing their job. Well, maybe not in those words. Sometimes fans choose other words to get their point across. But looking around the Vet and being hit with a wave of emotion, I came to realize that while the Vet may be gone in a few months, the best part is being moved into the Linc and into Citizen’s Bank Park; the fans. As one of my friends put it, “it’s like another chapter of our life is ending.” In fact, that is the very essence of it. But whenever another chapter ends, another one is beginning. So this, in a way, is my very small tribute, so to speak, to the Vet and to the Philadelphia fans. As we have found out so many times before, there’s always next season… and being the true fans we are, we’ll be there as well.

Posted to the Web by: Toccara Buckley

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Kendall Neil

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