True ‘phans’ keep Phillies spirit alive

By Paul Skow
October 22, 2009

Shannon Keough

Philadelphia fans waited over 25 heartbreak-filled years for last year’s Phillies championship. The glory of the parade and the success the Phillies have continued, and this season has seemed to wash away all those rough years we had to experience.

I’ve been a Philadelphia sports fan for about as long as I can remember, but I wasn’t always a baseball fan. It wasn’t because I found it boring, but just because I knew very little about baseball. I grew up a basketball fan and loved the Sixers and Michael Jordan.

The change came one day in the summer of 1998. My brother was home on leave from the Navy and my dad and I were dropping him back off at the airport. When my brother boarded the plane my dad turned to me and said, “You know, I’ve got these Phillies tickets for tonight. Would you want to go?” Without thinking about it too much I said, “Yes!”

I had been to games before when I was about four or five, but I was mostly preoccupied by the presence of my favorite mascot, the Philly Phanatic.

We did not pay attention to baseball for awhile after the 1994 baseball strike. This game was basically the turning point for my family getting back into baseball.

Though I love the team the Phillies have now, some of the best times I ever had as a baseball fan were back then, going to the three quarters empty Veterans Stadium. I remember purchasing seven dollar general admission tickets before we’d go in and walking the storied plain cement ramp up to the 700 level, before moving down to the 200 level behind home plate, which were practically always vacant.

Back then, we had players like Rico Brogna, Doug Glanville, Mike Lieberthal, Curt Schilling and my favorite: Scott Rolen.
It took a long time from that point, but our team finally started to get better.

Having dealt with so many lackluster Phillies teams finishing not even close to playoff contention, I never dreamed that I would be in the stands last year at the World Series or at the Phillies parade down Broad Street.
One thing I can always be proud of is that nobody can ever call me a front runner.

I stuck with the Phillies through so many seasons which just seemed to go nowhere under the horrible direction of GM Ed Wade and Manager Terry Francona.

Now I’m “Phinally” being rewarded with a Phillies team that I can be proud to cheer for.
What separates the Phillies from other teams, besides their incredible fans, is their heart.

Teams like the Yankees, Red Sox and Mets can sign the big-time free agents every year and pay their players ridiculously ludicrous salaries, but they’ll never play the way Chase Utley, Shane Victorino and Raul Ibanez play for Phillies fans.

There’s something about playing in Philadelphia, that even when we bring new players like Ibanez or Cliff Lee in, they assimilate into the Philadelphia culture that we hold so dear and grow to love the Philadelphia spirit.

Philadelphia fans aren’t stupid. They won’t tell a player he’s doing great when he’s batting .198, but when a player does what he should, we’ll cheer louder and more passionately than any other fans and that’s a fact.

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Paul Skow

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