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Andi's Excellent Adventure

Communications Professor Makes Trip to the World Series

November 4, 2008

By Andi Stein

Baseball fan Andi Stein, associate professor of communications, joins her father, Mort — who works for the Philadelphia Phillies — and her mother, René, prior to the beginning of Game 5 of the World Series.

It all started with a grand slam.

It was Game 2 of the National League Division Series with the Philadelphia Phillies playing the Milwaukee Brewers. The bases were loaded, and C.C. Sabathia, the Brewers’ star pitcher, was on the mound. Phillies center fielder Shane Victorino came up to the plate. He hit the ball – up, up, up, OUTTA THERE! It was a grand slam, the first of his career.

That was the moment I knew I would be going to the World Series.

But, let me start at the beginning. I love baseball.

Audience members watch intently as their hometown team battles for the World Series pennant Oct. 27 against the Tampa Bay Rays.

As a kid, I was constantly harassing my father and brother to let me play ball with them, despite being repeatedly assured by my father that “girls don’t play baseball – they play with dolls.” In 1972, when Title IX of the Education Amendments Act changed that by allowing women equal rights to play team sports, I was the first girl in my homeroom to sign up for the class ball team.

I grew up in Philadelphia, where baseball – specifically, Philadelphia Phillies baseball – was every sports fan’s favorite topic of conversation each summer. Philadelphia is a huge sports town, and Philly sports fans are, well, unique. They are passionate about their teams. They love to see them win and they HATE to see them lose. Best of all, Philly fans – or “Phans” – have no qualms about showing their passion, be it by cheering their hearts out when their teams win or throwing beer bottles onto the field when they lose.

For Philadelphia baseball fans, seeing the Phillies win a World Series was as good as hitting the jackpot in Atlantic City. Trouble is, it had only happened once – in 1980, when the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals. Ever since then, Phillies fans had been longing for the day when the team could make it happen again.

One of these fans was my father, Mort. My father taught junior high and high school in Philadelphia for close to 40 years. When he retired in 1993, many of us who knew him were concerned. “What are you going to do with yourself?” we asked. “You’re a workaholic – how are you going to keep busy?”

Despite the rain, the crowds continue to watch the Philadelphia Phillies in action during Game 5 of the World Series.

His reply: “I’m going to get a job with the Phillies.”

The Phillies? The PHILLIES? Sure you are, I thought at the time. And, I’m going to be Miss America.

To the surprise of everyone, the following year my father got hired as a security guard with the team. Part of his job involved working in the stands and trying to prevent rowdy fans from hurling those famous beer bottles into the crowd. After a season, he was moved down to the field. Eventually, he was given a new post – the Phillies dugout. That’s right – he spent every game sitting in the dugout with the players. Whoever would’ve thunk it? Certainly not Miss America.

As the years passed, my father and the rest of us waited for the day when the Phillies would once again go all the way and make it to the World Series. But year after year, they would give us all hope and then break our hearts at the end of every season.

Game 5 is suspended at the top of the sixth inning with the score tied 2-2 and the ground crew brings out the tarps.

Then, in September, the opportunity came when the Phillies won their division, making them eligible for the playoffs. As a Phillies employee, my father had the opportunity to buy a playoff ticket package. It included two tickets to the first round of playoffs, two to the second round, and, if they were to get there, two tickets to the World Series – a baseball lover’s fantasy.

Going to the World Series

My mother and brother Craig used the first set of tickets and watched the Phillies beat the Milwaukee Brewers in Game 1 of that series on Oct. 1. Nine days later, when the Phillies beat the Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia during Game 2 of that series, they called me about 30 seconds after the game ended, shrieking with joy. I could hear the crowd ROARING in the background.

The following week, when the Phillies beat the Dodgers in L.A. and clinched the National League Championship Oct. 15, I knew it was finally my turn. As I told my brother, there are certain privileges that go with being the oldest child – the World Series ticket was mine! Shane Victorino’s grand slam during the division series had proved to be an omen after all. I WAS going to the World Series!

The World Series tickets were for Game 5. That meant that both teams – the Phillies and their American League opponents, the Tampa Bay Rays – had to lose at least one game so that neither team would sweep, ensuring there would be a Game 5. I watched the first game on TV and cheered for the Phillies to win. They did. Series score – 1-0, Phillies. The next day, I watched the second game and hoped for the Phillies to lose – not an easy task for a die-hard fan. But they came through like champions, losing pitifully to the Rays and guaranteeing a fifth game. Series score – 1-1.

On Saturday, Oct. 25, I flew from Orange County to Philadelphia. The plane was filled with Phillies fans headed to the World Series and abuzz with chatter, all asking the same question – could our team really do it this time?

That night’s game ran late because of a rain delay, and as the plane descended toward Philadelphia International Airport, I could see the stadium from the air, lights ablaze, filled with cheering fans.

My brother picked me up at the airport, and we arrived at my parents’ house just in time to join my mom and watch the end of the game – a nail-biter that concluded when one of the Phillies scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Series score – 2-1, Phillies.

The next night, Game 4, my mother, brother and I watched the game together in his living room. Every once in awhile we caught a glimpse of my father on TV, sitting in the dugout or standing out on the field in between innings in his blue security guard uniform.

The Phillies were hot that night, scoring run after run. We waved our rally towels, we screamed at the television set. Could it really be true? Could the Phillies make the series score 3-1, entertaining the possibility that Mom and I might get to see the team try to win its first World Series since 1980 during Game 5 the next night?

YES! The Phillies won that night, 10-2. Series score – 3-1, Phillies. It was a miracle! Not only was I going to the World Series, I might even get to be there to see them win it all.

A Wet Experience

The day of Game 5, Monday, Oct. 27, Mom and I could barely contain ourselves. We dressed in the appropriate gear – Phillies T-shirts, hats, pins and baseball jewelry – and headed to the stadium. Our enthusiasm grew as we boarded the Broad Street subway, along with several hundred other fans dressed in Phillies red. The excitement was almost palpable. When we got off the subway, the crowd began to chant, “Let’s Go Phillies!” Transit officials handed us all pennants that said, “Go Phillies” as we exited the station.

The four-block walk to the stadium was like a dream as we were swept along with the crowd to the gates of Citizens Bank Park. Once inside, we were handed our official Phillies rally towels. With two hours to go until game time, we roamed the concourse, stopping along the way to purchase World Series souvenirs.

The stadium began to fill with fans. The excitement was building. The team was taking batting practice on the field. In front of the dugout, there were dozens of reporters, setting up cameras and conducting interviews with fans and coaches. It was going to be a GREAT night – I could feel it in my bones.

And then, it started to rain. Just a light sprinkle at first. No big deal.

Mom was horrified. “It can’t rain tonight! It wasn’t supposed to rain tonight! Why is it raining?” she cried. I wasn’t sure. While the forecast had called for frigid temperatures, the word “rain” had never been mentioned.

“Don’t worry,” I assured her. “I’m sure it won’t last long. Besides, we’re at the World Series. What’s a little rain?”

Since our seats were on the top level of the stadium in the open air, we decided to stay on the concourse for a while to stay dry. We found a spot under cover along the third base line in the “standing room” section and wedged ourselves behind the last row of first-level seats. “Let’s just stand here for a bit until the rain stops,” I said.

Then the game began. The start of the game was electric. When the Phillies scored two runs in the first inning, the crowd cheered and waved their rally towels as hard as they could. Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels successfully held off the Tampa Bay Rays. It was phenomenal. I kept shaking my head, not quite believing that I had really made it to the World Series.

The rain got harder. By the second inning, the fans in front of us wouldn’t stay seated. It was difficult to see the field when they stood up. Then Mom started to whimper. “I’m cold,” she said. “I can’t see the field.” I pointed out that while we could go up to our official seats, they were still being drenched with rain. “Let’s just stand here a little longer,” I said.

In the end, we stood there for four hours. The rain got even harder. By the fourth inning, it was tough to see the field. By the fifth inning, mud puddles were beginning to form on the infield. When shortstop Jimmy Rollins missed what should have been an easy pop fly out because he couldn’t see the ball through the rain, the fans started to groan. Neither team was playing particularly well, and the Phillies, who had played like champions the previous night, seemed especially sluggish in the rain.

Mom wasn’t happy. The famous Philly Phans were getting restless – I expected the beer bottles to start flying at any moment. And then, in the top of the sixth inning, as the rain came down in sheets, the Rays tied the score, 2-2. It felt as though all the air had been let out of the crowd like a deflated balloon.

After the Rays’ third out of the inning, the game suddenly came to a halt. Both teams retreated to their dugouts while the ground crew rolled a giant tarp over the field. The stadium buzzed with anticipation – what was going to happen? This was supposed to be it – the big win, not the big washout.

Game Suspended

Then it came. The official announcement. “Ladies and Gentleman, Game 5 of the World Series has been suspended.”

Huh? Suspended? What did that mean?

“Game 5 will resume tomorrow night or whenever weather conditions permit,” the official voice proclaimed.

It was over. A record had been set. It was the first time in World Series’ history that a game had been suspended and we were there. Mom and I watched as the fans started slogging their way out of the stadium. Then we headed over to the employees’ entrance where we met up with a frozen, rain-soaked Dad, whose coloring was as blue as his official Phillies jacket.

“What a night,” Dad said.

“This was just awful,” Mom wailed.

Awful? Not even close. While it wasn’t exactly the dream World Series experience I had imagined, overall, I thought it was closer to awesome than awful. After all, I was at the World Series – how nifty was that?! Yes, it was cold, yes it was wet, but it was the opportunity of a lifetime, one I wouldn’t have traded for anything.

The next day, I had to return to California. Mom and I gave our ticket stubs to my brother Craig and his friend Eddie. On Wednesday, Oct. 29, they got to see the Phillies finish the last three innings of Game 5 and clinch the World Series title. As soon as the game ended, Craig called me once again from the stadium to let me hear the roaring crowd. I sat in my living room staring at the TV set, watching the fans go wild and I started to cry. The Phillies had really done it. For the first time in 28 years, they were the World Series Champions. It was truly amazing.

So, in the end, both Craig and I did get to a World Series game after all. And, as he pointed out, it was the same game. I thought that was pretty neat. Craig and I are already talking about the next World Series. Next time the Phillies make the series, we decided, he and I will go together. Mom can watch the game from the warm, dry comfort of home and look for us on TV. We’ll be dressed in Phillies red.

Go Phillies!

Andrea “Andi” Stein is associate professor of communications.


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