Veterans Stadium

Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, PA

Number of Games:  1
First and Last Game:  June 22, 1993 (Phillies 5, Braves 3)

Veterans Stadium was demolished on March 21, 2004.

First the stadium:  see Busch, Three Rivers, and Riverfront.  A circle.  Turf.  Boring.  The Phillies have since moved out of here, and that’s good.  No reaction whatsoever to this cookie-cutter ballpark.  That’s it for the stadium.

The Vet, however, marks the first time I ever took a date to a baseball game.  When you’re as much of a glove-wearing, game-scoring nerd as I am, the first game is a little bit of a worry.  The general rule for me is, unless the woman spontaneously indicates an affinity for baseball, to wait until I know her at least a month before letting her see me in this context.  Shelly met this standard.  I’d known her for a couple of years.  She was a close friend of the woman with whom I was to be living in sin that summer–the one whose breakup with me sent me fleeing to the stadiums in the first place.  Shelly did the absolute best thing possible for a man in my situation…she seduced me (or let me seduce her–the line is awfully blurry).  This love connection, I believe, was very good for me and probably not so good for her in the long run.  She volunteered herself to be the primary stop on the Erotic Love and Baseball Stadium Tour.  She flew down to Pittsburgh from her place outside of Cleveland, drove with me across the state to Reading, where we house-sat for friends of hers, then drove with me back to Cleveland.

This would be the only week I would ever spend with her one-on-one.  We spent one day of touristing in Philadelphia.  Me and the tall redhead.  We looked good.  We looked happy.  We must have been stopped ten

times by horse-and-carriage-ride offers. We saw everything there was to see.  We tried to get to the stadium and accidentally wound up in New Jersey.  She put up with my reaction to the stress of being lost in a strange town.  We righted ourselves and put ourselves in the left-field bleachers.  She did the Kids’ Page in the program…every maze, every fill-in-the-blank crossword.  She said the Phillie Phanatic was sexy.  She took me back to Reading.  She took me to bed.  She drove with me to Cleveland–even went with me to another game there.  She listened to me rant.  I was a mess.  She took me for a weekend at a condo by Lake Erie (actually very beautiful in the summer).  She took me to back to bed.  She kept my car at her place while I took the train across the country to Chicago, Milwaukee, and Montana.  She picked me up at the train station at 2:30 AM when I returned.  I was still a mess. She took me back to the lake, back to the condo, back to bed.

How does this all turn out even?  This relationship where I whine about my ex nonstop, and this brilliant, gorgeous woman not only puts up with it, but also repeatedly seduces me (or is seduced)?  Maybe she intentionally did this to set up her life so that she was owed so much relationship karma by the time we were through that she would be due a fantastic permanent Prince Charming.   Our inevitable ugly falling out came a few months later, and she went on to become a minister at an inner-city church.  Maybe this betrays that she has a thing for the needy, because that’s sure what I was that summer of 1993.

I don’t want to make Shelly out to be a saint–she had some significant problems that were especially evident in the ugly falling out.  And now that I gather my thoughts on my time with Shelly to write this, it all looks terribly messed up, but it surely didn’t feel that way at the time, perhaps because of our youth.

They’ve since knocked down that worthless hunk of cookie-cutter concrete, and good riddance to it.  But I’m not going to remember it for its obvious flaws.  I’m going to remember a tremendous game.  I’m going to remember one or two specific moments in time–which is, in the end, what we all remember from any place or any person.  That’s how I’ll force myself to remember Veterans Stadium, and that’s how I’ll force myself to remember Shelly, the center of the Erotic Love and Baseball Stadium Tour.  Shelly, my first baseball date.

BASEBALL STUFF I’VE SEEN HERE:

The Braves/Phillies matchup turned out to be a preview of that year’s NLCS, and the Phillies’ victory anticipated the result.

Pete Incaviglia hits the difference-making three-run homer in the fifth inning.  My fellow left-field fans cheer him passionately when he runs out for the following inning.

Francisco Cabrera hits an absolute monster homer into the upper-deck above me.

Mitch Williams gets the save.

(Written August 2001.  Updated April 2004.)

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