The year of the Mets… and I switch allegiance.
I’m 11 years old and my Mom convinced 2 of my older siblings’ teachers to take me and my brothers to Connie Mack Stadium for a twi-night doubleheader vs the Mets. I had followed the Mets due to wear we lived in Pennsylvania and couldn’t get the broadcasts on our antenna. The NY stations came in clear and I couldn’t warm up to the Yankees.
Imagine this little country boy being driven to an area I wasn’t familiar with but I was going to my first games! We drove up to Connie Mack Stadium, parked and we started the 2 block walk.
As we got closer, the smells are still embedded deep into my memory. Stale beer, cigar smoke and of course, urine. Some would never have gotten out of the car but we were determined. When I saw the front gate and the architectural style of this classic, historic ballpark, the smells fit. Through the turnstiles and all of a sudden there was this beautiful field of green! I was memorized.
As we made it down to our seats, only 10 rows behind the Mets dugout, being the youngest, I got the girder seat. I didn’t care. My senses were alive and I was soaking it all in.
Game one started and Gary Gentry shut down the Phillies except for this guy Allen, #15. He hit a single so hard to left, it backed up Cleon Jones.
After walking the concourse and getting my soda and hot dog, we settled into our seats for game two.
First home run I saw was hit by Larry Hisle. A high hit ball that kept going in to the leftfield bleachers. Phillies up 2-0.
Up came #15. I never saw a bat so big – it was a twig in his hands. The pitcher threw the pitch and a scorching line drive, hit harder then the other hit, as the pitcher threw his arm up to catch. He missed as the ball kept rising, and rising and rising until it hit the scoreboard in center. I was speechless, and I was sold on Richie Allen.
When we got home to Kintnersville, I climbed up on the roof and adjusted my Dad’s antenna and watched fuzzy Phillies game the rest of the year.
I followed the Mets through to their first World Series title but started to follow the Phillies. It’s been a 51 year love affair ever since. I have raised 4 boys who are all hard core Phillie Phanatics.
Not to mention I became a huge Dick Allen fan and, as a lot of us are, disappointed that this superstar is not enshrined in Cooperstown.
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