Out with the old, in with the new

David Pascone

A sad day for Philadelphia has come – Sept. 28. A piece of sports history closed its gates one final time. The death of Veterans Stadium is here. Gone forever are the cat-sized rats roaming in foul territory, the doubles in the outfield gap that skip over the 20-yard line and the escalators that rarely function. The Phillies Franks will never taste the same, and the Wolf Pack’s howls will never reverberate like they did off the Vet’s empty seats.

Last Sunday, the last regular season game was played at the Vet, and fittingly, the Phillies battled the Atlanta Braves.

For years, the Braves have terrorized Phillies fans with their superior records. Fans of course were hoping for a storybook ending as a way to say goodbye.

However, to our dismay, the Braves defeated the Phillies, leaving their mark in those last days of Veterans Stadium. The Phillies were in the midst of a battle for the National League Wild Card with the Florida Marlins. If the Phillies had won the Wild Card, they would have returned to the playoffs for the first time since the magical 1993 season. More importantly, the Vet would live for at least one more game. But once again, the Phillies let us down, ending the season and leaving the Vet for good.

Any other city would have died for a do-or-die situation on Sunday, but Philadelphia dreaded the thought. Last year’s NFC championship, anybody? OK, enough depressing memories.

Let’s dream for a minute. How about Jim Thome hitting a game-winning home run in extra innings, or Pat Burrell producing a clutch hit of any sort for the first time this season? Maybe even Jose Mesa returning to the closer’s role and retiring the side 1-2-3 in the ninth? Or, dare I say it, a complete game shutout by Kevin Millwood against his former team?

Sadly, we must return to reality. In any other city, I would say those improbable ending are possible, but this is Philadelphia. It would only be fitting that the Phillies enter Sunday in a do-or-die situation and choke, and ironically enough, that is exactly what happened.

Isn’t that what the Vet is all about it? I mean, the Phillies have already torn our hearts time and time again, so why would they change all of a sudden? We Philadelphians are used to losing the important games, so anything different would be a miracle. Would we even have known how to react if the Phillies had secured the Wild Card? Here are my five greatest Phillies’ moments at the Vet.

5. May 4, 2003 – Kevin Millwood records the last no-hitter in Veterans Stadium history against the San Francisco Giants by a score of 1-0.

4. May 16, 1972 – Greg Luzinski becomes the only player to hit the Liberty Bell in center field with a batted ball, an estimated 550 feet away.

3. July 2, 1993 – At 4:43 a.m., Mitch Williams, a Phillies relief pitcher, knocks in the winning run to end the second game of a doubleheader against the San Diego Padres, which lasted over eight hours due to rain delays.

2. October 13, 1993 – The Phillies clinch a berth to the World Series by defeating the rival Atlanta Braves four games to two in the National League championship.

1. October 21, 1980 – Tug McGraw strikes out Willie Wilson of the Kansas City Royals to clinch the Phillies’ first and only World Series championship, sending the city into mass hysteria. The play of the game occurred when catcher Bob Boone bobbled a foul pop up, only to have it caught by Pete Rose, who was backing him up.

Goodbye Vet. Goodbye NexTurf. Thanks for all the memories.