Being born and raised in Philly, I’ve been a lifelong Eagles and Phillies fan, and adopted the Flyers when they came to town. The championships that came were few and far between. The bane of my existence was moving to Dallas where my firstborn, a couple of his brothers, and now a grandson (I just KNEW I should have said no when he asked for my daughter’s hand!) have become Cowboys fans. But I digress.
Back before there were playoffs, there were no divisional or league championships in baseball: the best team in the National League played the best team from the American League in the World Series, which started only two days after the regular season ended. We snuck transistor radios into school, trying to hide the wire, listening to the afternoon games – there were no night games in the World Series – you talked about the games at the dinner table.
And then the Phillies had the team of my youth. Dick Allen won Rookie of the year in ’64. Jim Bunning (recently retired Sen. Bunning of Kentucky fame) pitched a perfect game. Name the position; I’ve got the whole starting line up memorized.
The team went into September with a lead. The National League gave the top three clubs permission to print and sell World Series tickets, which the Phillies did. They had that lead into the last week of the season – when they collapsed. Big. They had a 6 ½ game lead with 12 to play and blew it. They lost 10 of the last twelve. Bunning and Short pitched on two days rest during the streak. It broke my heart.
Grandpop had Eagles season tickets, and we watched the Eagles game that last day of the baseball season. The Phillies were already out of 1st place, but the Cardinals, eventual WS champions, needed to lose to the Mets one more time on Sunday to force a playoff. My brother, cousin, and I still fondly recall the “Lets Go Mets!” cheers at Franklin Field (before the Vet) when the NY Mets – St. Louis scores were announced during the Eagles’ game. We went to the airport that Sunday night to see them back into town. The players were grim, to say the least. But they were our Phillies.
Dad taught me to be persistent, to stay the course, to persevere, through any thing that life has thrown at me. He went to night school when I was a kid to get his degree. He encouraged my mom to go to school full-time to get her degree with four teenagers in high school, which she did – and she finished a year or two before him.
He told us all one time he’d consider his life a success if we could go out and make it on our own in the world. Look at us, dad. We’re doing pretty good. And now your grandkids are starting to make their way in the world, too, and they’re meeting with their own successes. I hope you’re proud of it all.
For all those lessons we learn from our dads, most go unspoken. They can bury me in Texas if they want to – I’ll come back and haunt my kids if they do! My heart will ALWAYS be with my folks (and with the Phillies and Eagles) in Philly. It’s these and 1,000s of other lessons I’m not about to put aside or lose in my old age. Thanks, dad.