© 2011 Aaron Atkinson

The Boys of Summer

When I was 12 my Dad took Tim and I to see the Blue Jays play at the SkyDome in Toronto. The stadium was brand new and it’s retractable roof was an engineering marvel. The year was 1993 and the Blue Jays were really good. Success breeds success and the stadium was sold out with baseball crazed, adoring fans.

Since then I’ve been to the stadium in Detroit, and of course to the K to see the Royals play. But a few weeks ago I watched the Phillies play in Philadelphia and the experience was unforgettable.

First off, Citizens Bank Park seats about 44,000 but the attendance that evening was close to 48,000. The place was packed. And unlike in Kansas City where fans of the rival team will almost match the Royals fans in attendance, 99% of the fans in Philly were actually cheering for the home team. And these guys go nuts. For the first time in my life a total stranger gave me a high five simply because I was there, because his team was winning and because he was feeling the brotherly love.

From our seats behind home plate we had a beautiful view of the downtown skyline. Out in right center field there is a gigantic, illuminated Liberty Bell that rang when Philadelphia hit a homerun. Poised in left center is baseball’s second largest scoreboard (second only to the one in Kansas City). And another first, during a break between innings I was on that giant scoreboard.

During the seventh inning stretch I looked around at a sea of Phillies jerseys. Scattered among the Howards, Lees, Utleys were ten thousand Halladay jerseys. To me, if you were once a Blue Jay, you’ll always be a Blue Jay, and old Roy fits this bill better than most. While smiling at the sea of fans cheering for my guy, I looked out at the flags in center field to see 1993 flopping in the weak breeze.

I smiled.

I should have worn my Mitch Williams jersey. Next to Roy, he’ll always be my favorite Phillie.


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