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Take Me Out to the Ball Game

by Peter Proko, Editor-In-Chief
They say you never forget your first baseball game. I’ve heard people talk about how wide their eyes got the first time they saw the field, how loud the crack of the bat sounded, how they brought their glove in hopes of snagging a foul ball or, better yet, a homerun. But for me, my first baseball game was a blur: I don’t remember a thing. That’s not because it wasn’t a special event in my life—I’m sure it was. But, more likely, it’s because I was still in diapers. In hopes of jogging my memory, I placed a call to my parents to see if they could help me fill in the missing pieces. The only information they could offer was an anecdote about one particular game when the Phillie Phanatic appeared in our section and immediately zeroed in on me. Midway through his performance, I lost it and began crying until my family left the stadium. Fortunately, I’ve made plenty of baseball memories since then. When I was still buying packs of Topps cards and putting them in the spokes of my Huffy, I had already been to games not only at The Vet, but also at Angel Stadium and the Oakland Coliseum. I’ve been to Camden Yards in Baltimore, but there was nothing like hopping in the car with my father and going to the old Memorial Stadium. Another time, I was let out mid-morning from elementary school to head to Yankee Stadium for Bat Day. More recently, I’ve smacked a beach ball around Dodger Stadium; sat rows from the Phillies dugout at Fenway Park; and attended two World Series games. I’ve been to my share of minor league stadiums too: Durham, Scranton, Reading, Jacksonville and Richmond, just to name a few. And because of my job, I’ve gotten to meet a lot of great baseball people. I’ve sat in the dugout joking around with Chase Utley during batting practice; ducked into the bowels of Citizens Bank Park with Harry Kalas and just a few weeks ago sat down with our cover man Ruben Amaro Jr. The Phillies general manager is one of the sharpest executives in baseball and largely responsible for building what many consider to be the greatest Phillies team ever. For a die-hard fan like me, it was an unforgettable experience—especially since the day we got together, Roy Halladay was working out on the field… in the snow. Like every other baseball fan in South Jersey, I felt this season couldn’t get here fast enough. And like every opening day, I’ll be in the stands, making new memories and rekindling my childhood love affair with the game. Well, that and keeping an eye out for the Phanatic. Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 8, Issue 1 (April, 2011).
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