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April 11, 2011 / sharoncopy

Autographs at Veteran’s Stadium

    I learned a great procedure when I was back in college that has served us well for many years. When a stadium event was over, we stayed in our seats and waited and chatted about the game while the  rest of the thousands of people headed for the massive traffic jam in the parking  lot.  Sometimes we walked to a local restaurant and had a bite to eat. By the time we got to our car, it was pretty easy to find, and to exit the lot, with a great deal less frustration.

  And so, years later, we were the small group that always stayed in our seats in Veterans Stadium for awhile after the Phillies game ended. Why risk losing sight of one of the 8 boys in the crowd? (see the April 7 post). Why bother  bumping elbows with thousands of people, and trying not to bump car parts with them in the parking lot. It took a good 30 minutes to get out of the lot if we went immediately, anyway. So, we sat and talked about the game. When the upper section was nearly empty we’d move down to the railing and continue to stare at whatever was happening on the field. Then we’d walk quickly down the ramps and get down to the 400-200 sections and sometimes walk all the way down to the wall by the field. It all looked different down there and we dreamed of seeing a game from up close.  It wasn’t worth trying to sneak with 8 boys, a cooler, and several bags of snacks and baseball gloves and such. But once when the stadium was particularly empty, I asked an usher if it might be okay to come down. He was an old guy, maybe 70 or so,  and he said to wait until the middle of the fourth inning and then come on down and he’d seat us.  We spent the rest of that game watching from right behind the dugout by first base and saw Curt Schilling up close when he was honored for something.  It was a great day.

  Anyway, we would sometimes walk all the way around the stadium, seeing the field from different vantage points if the employees were trying to get everyone out of the lower section. On one particular evening with absolutely perfect weather we got a little confused as to which area we had parked in and we exited at an unfamiliar location. The moon and stars were out, it was after 10 p.m. and I started to look around to get my bearings.  A group of kids and adults were all gathered over to our right and it seemed like they were all standing still. I thought maybe they were waiting for their bus to pick them up or something.  Being curious, I asked, and a man told me that it was the exit where most of the Phillies came out afte r they showered and changed clothes. The crowd was waiting to get autographs.

  Well, there was nothing to do but stay and wait for autographs too. We didn’t have any pens, and no papers. Someone suggested that the kids had hats and shirts and we all had ticket stubs.  Before long the excitement grew as player after player came out. Some walked right on by, and others stopped and signed.  Someone loaned us a pen to share and then someone who was well prepared loaned us a Sharpie type marker. The boys were ecstatic. They got signatures on hats that they might still have buried with their childhood treasures, and on the stubs, and I think one got it on his T-shirt as well.  I surveyed the action, referreed the use of the pen and marker, and thought about what a wonderful night it was: beautiful weather, happy boys. A good time.

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