First of all, I'd like to say how much I enjoy Ricky Jordan's Fan Club's posts. I was going to leave a comment however, I knew that it would be too long. His stories are well thought out and researched. They bring a smile to my face, of a time not so long ago yet simultaneously a lifetime ago.
In 1996, I fulfilled my childhood dream. During the winter doldrums of February, I booked my first trip to Chicago to see my beloved Phillies play in the "Friendly Confines" of Wrigley Field. This was a fantasy of mine since that Thursday afternoon with the wind blowing out in mid-May of 1979. I was a young girl and listened to all 10 innings of what was named ''The 23-22 Game." I finally found a friend to take this journey and I booked it immediately. The flight, the hotel, the tickets to all four games were all paid in full. I just had to wait out the four months.
My 17 game plan was already paid in full by December of 1995. I loved those games at the Vet when you could just spread out and enjoy the game. It was all I knew. I sat in section 314, which was at first base, in the third row. They were great seats. If the game was dull, there was always something to look at from those seats. There was a walkway separating the 200 level from the 300 level. People were constantly parading in front of us. It was so amusing. Remember, I'm talking about the late 80's and the 90's with the hair and fashion of that time. There was not a lot of fan gear back then so people were either decked out in what they thought was cool or they were utter and complete slobs. It didn't matter, it was entertaining no matter what the extreme.
RJFC wrote about Philadelphia hosting the All Star Game in 1996. I highly anticipated this event because I've never been to an All Star Game. I was so there! I was all paid up and I knew that I was guaranteed seats to the festivities, Home Run Derby and all.
I trudged through the rest of that winter waiting for the first sign of Spring. I celebrated St Patrick's Day...it's getting closer. I was celebrating my father's 60th birthday when it happened. I lost my job of 11 years. I have never been unemployed. I had a mortgage. I had a catered Surprise Party for my father at a local club. Fuck! Well, my father was the best guy in the world and he deserved the party. I refused to cancel it, even though my mother suggested that. My baseball endeavors were already taken care of, so I just had to suck it up financially and look for a new job.
I survived that season. If you have to get laid off, there's no better time than the beginning of Baseball Season. I tried to keep a positive attitude. I lived for the Phillies' games. It was the highlight of a suddenly boring life. I had all of this time on my hands but I was trying to avoid spending any money. I arrived early for the games and enjoyed batting practice. I stayed until the very last out. I had nothing else better to do. I loved it. It was like being a kid again, I had plenty of free time and I was poor. I could watch afternoon BPS games. I could stay up late for west coast games. I didn't miss a game on tv. Unbeknownst to all of us, this was Harry and Richie's last full season together in the booth and I was there for every inning.
I attended the All Star Game, the Homer Run Derby, and the Fan Festival at the Convention Center. As RJFC reminded us in his last post, Ricky Bottalico was the Phillies lone All Star. It's funny now when you hear Michael Barkann introduce Ricky Bo on Phillies Post Game Live. He really emphasizes his All Star status. Hey Michael, that was 15 years ago and every team gets one representative. Don't get me wrong, I love Ricky Bo. He has great enthusiasm and passion for the Phils. I'm not sure if he is aware of the fact that he is no longer on the team. To me, that's part of his charm.
I made my maiden trip to Chicago and I fell in love with the city. It's beautiful and modern yet you can walk a few blocks and you're on a beach. It has great dining, music and culture, plus friendly natives. I highly recommend a visit. In 1996, due to my personal finances, I kept to a strict budget. Public transportation is readily accessible and runs through the night which is imperative since the best blues clubs are open until 5:00 am. I will give you a full report on Wrigley in the future, although I will say that it is much smaller than I thought.
I was so impressed with my experience in the Windy City that I try to visit every other year. I always stay for a week because there is so much happening. That first trip was in June. The weather was perfect. My subsequent travels have been at the end of July and August, when it's really hot. Since the Phillies only go to Wrigley once a year, you're at the mercy of the schedule. I was really hoping to go this year. Guess what? Two weeks ago, I lost my job of seven years. Well at least this time I don't have any vacations prepaid. Not to worry, my season tickets were paid in full last December. Anyone want to hire a die hard Phillies fan? I'm an excellent employee but I have taken my vacation time the last several years during the month of October and I intend to do so this year.