The plan on Saturday night was to watch at the ‘Vous with a bunch of friends. As I walked to the Locust, the rain began to pour. The discussion of doing The Unthinkable quickly came up. I said to no-one in particular. “You know, if ever you’re going to a Phils World Series game, tonight is the night. Tickets are going to be dirt cheap, relatively speaking.” Everybody was hemming and hawing about it. Garbo said, “If you go, I’m in.” I continued to mull over it. I felt confident we could get a cheap ticket, and the later they pushed the start time back, the better our chances would be. All the Phils fans would stay at the ballpark, but the corporate suits sure as hell weren’t going to get their heads wet. So there would be seats. Finally, my buddy Jon texted me from a nearby bar. “Let’s go down there. Tickets will be cheap.” That was it. I was all in. “F*** it,” I wrote back. “Let’s do it.”
I looked up from my phone and asked around, “I’m going down there. Who’s in?”. Garbo said with no hesitation, “I am.” Nobody else was felt like leaving friendly confines to go on a strange adventure in the cold rain. So Garbo and I marched out like soldiers off to War, knowing that we had stormed off too cockily to return, even if we didn’t score tickets. Jon called back, and said he had changed his mind and was out. Garbo and I sloshed through the rain to the subway, and hopped on board.
We got to the ballpark and faced a grim reality. There were no scalpers anywhere. “What the hell’s going on here?” I wondered. So I marched up to the ticket window.
“No tickets left,” said the friendly young man behind the window.
“Sure, sure,” I said. “but listen. You and I both know that that stadium is not filling up tonight with this weather. So if you freed up two tickets, I’ll take good care of you. You scratch my back, I scratch yours.”
“No, can’t do that. I don’t have any tickets back here.”
“You gotta have a couple of will calls lying around that aren’t getting used.”
“I can’t release those!”
“Why not? If they haven’t shown up by now, they ain’t showing up.”
“I wish I could help you, but my hands are tied.”
Alright, that wasn’t going to work. I saw four real shady looking South Philly guys lurking in the shadows. I walked over.
“You guys got seats?” I asked.
“What you lookin’ to spend?” asked a short, squat 50-something man with a wispy moustache, a balding grey head and, as a coup de grace, a tiny pony tail.
“$200,” I said.
“Nah, these seats are way too good for $200.”
“Well, they just threw the first pitch,” I answered, knowing that ticket values plummet after a first pitch.
“So what? They started two hours late too. Can’t help ya.”
We stumbled away. The game had started, which is always in the buyers favor. He wasn’t gonna eat those tickets when there were two guys with money around. I figured I’d be back later.
Garbo and I walked aimlessly back in forth in front of the gate. We asked around. “Looking for two, looking for two” I muttered to each passerby. Finally a guy walked toward us with the distinct look of someone looking to sell. A cleancut young man with an official World Series jacket approached us.
“You looking to buy?” he asked.
“I got two tickets with a face value of $150. I’ll give ’em to you for…” He paused. My eyes got wider, my ears at rapt attention, eagerly anticipating the next few moments like a contestant on Let’s Make a Deal waiting for the box to be pulled back and knowing I was either going to get a car or a donkey.
“Face value,” he said.
“Sold!” I shouted. A teenager ran over.
“I’ll give you $200,” he gasped.
“Oh crap, now we’re gonna auction,” I thought. But the guy who sold us the tickets was a man of pure and distinct honor, and though I will never see him again for the rest of my life, I will always consider him one of my favorite people on Earth.
“Nope, deal’s already been made,” he said. Do you mind if I hang out here and make sure the ticket’s good?” I asked.
Garbo ran up the gate and handed over his ticket. It was for real. Garbo shot me a thumbs up. I thanked the man profusely and ran to the gate. I couldn’t believe it. I ran my ticket through the machine. The ticket counter said, “Welcome to the World Series.”
“This is really cool,” said Garbo.
“Dude, we’re at the World Series,” I shouted at the top of my lungs and began jumping up madly. “We’re at the freaking World Series,” I shouted loud enough that people began shooting me strange looks and pulling their children closer to their bodies.
I didn’t care. I was at the Freaking World Series. There. In Person. At the stadium. To watch my team play. A team founded in 1883. A team that has played almost 19,000 games. And I would be in attendance at their 29th World Series game ever. Me. There.
I would see, in person, Moyer’s masterpiece, I would hug complete strangers after Utley and Howard launched back to back jacks, I would scream bloody murder at the Villain who umpired first, and I would dance in the aisles like a madman at 1:47 a.m. after the Greatest 55-Foot Hit in Major League Baseball History. I was, for one more delicious day in my life, an 8-year old kid, up way past my bedtime, cheering on my heroes, and dancing like a damned fool.