Major League Baseball Park #14 out of 39
Sunday, September 8, 1996
Chicago Cubs 5, Philadelphia 3
W– Jaime Navarro
L – Mike Mimbs
Attendance – 27,600
Veterans' Stadium opened April 4, 1971, in South Philadelphia and was one of several multi-purpose stadiums built after 1970 that were supposed to last a longer than they did (Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, Riverfront in Cincinnati, Seattle's Kingdome). 23 years later, all four have been turned into rubble and replaced with new football and baseball stadiums.
Our second stop on the 1996 trip was the Vet. Huge parking lot. Open-air stadium. Sunny day with highs in the upper 70s. We're definitely not in Seattle anymore. My wife and I were standing there in the outfield during batting practice watching Tim getting his hat knocked off by a Brant Brown foul ball. Off to our left, a Cubs coach was signing autographs for the kids. I couldn't see who it was so I handed her our ticket stubs. A few minutes later, we had two signatures from Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins. To this day, Ferguson (19-year career, 284-226 record, 3.34 ERA) Jenkins is only the second pitcher to sign something I own. The other one was original Mariners' pitcher Gary Wheelock. One season in the majors and seven wins. Quite a difference.
The Phillies haven't won a World Series since 1980 and they haven't been to one since 1993. Mitch Williams. Joe Carter. The home run's been replayed a few times over the years. There was a decent crowd that afternoon, but the Phillies weren't doing well in late 1996. When the National League East standings were displayed on the scoreboard, the last-place spot was blank, but the Phillies' record was visible. Ouch.
After the Cubs won the game, we decided to hit a couple of tourist spots and stopped by Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell. When I learned about the bell's history in grade school, I pictured it being about 12 feet high. Apparently, it isn't and it can be found in a glass-enclosed mini-plaza in the downtown area -- a short distance from Independence Hall. Around this time (just before 5 PM), I could see dark clouds and lightning just to the north of us. A few blocks' walk later, we had to duck into a small knick-knack shop because the skies had just opened up on us. During a temporary break in the weather, we ran for the car and had dinner at a sports bar (Champions, I believe). More rain and more lightning. Nothing like summer away from the Northwest.
Our hotel that night was a few miles south of Philadelphia (because our next game on the trip was in Baltimore) and at one point on the way, we were momentarily blinded by a bolt of lightning a few blocks away from us. Once we found the hotel, we actually stayed in the car for a few minutes while we tried to figure out the best way to grab as much as possible without getting really soaked.
On the count of three, we ran for the room and sure enough, the storm had almost completely stopped by the time we got indoors. Still being in the Philadelphia area, we booed at our misfortune.
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