As I watched game 5 of the National League Championship Series from section 418 on Wednesday night, sitting next to my 15 year old cousin, Eric, I looked over at him a lot.
Occasionally, whether on the baseball diamond when I've coached Eric's Babe Ruth League team, or at home witnessing how he reacts to things, I see much of myself in him. Never have I felt like I was looking into a time delayed mirror more than at NLCS game 5. I glanced at Eric and saw myself sitting in the 600 level of Veterans Stadium at game 6 of the 1993 NLCS.
In 1993, I was a year older than my cousin is now, but I could tell that his state of mind was exactly the same as mine was back then. As I watched that '93 Phillies team excel, achieve great feats and go farther than anyone expected, I knew I was watching something terrific, and I knew it was more than worthy of celebration...but I don't think I appreciated the team enough. I don't think I was grateful enough that MY team was going to the World Series. Eric didn't fully appreciate what was happening in 2009 either. That is nothing against him...he's a kid. But, I felt it was my duty to build the levels of value and adoration he has for HIS team.
I explained to Eric how hugely significant this occurance is, based on the post season and World Series droughts that the Philadelphia Phillies have gone through in their history. I pointed out that the Phillies used to go 30 years or more without times like this. He seemed surprised when I pointed out that OUR team had gone from 1915 till 1950 without a post season game, and then from 1950 to 1980 without playing in the World Series. Eric is not unaware of team history, by any means, but occasionally looking out at those division championship and league pennant flags, along the Citizens Bank Park rooftop area, never quite sunk in. To a casual teenage glance, it probably appears like a lot of flags. Some are white (division title), some are blue (league pennant), some are red (world championship)...all must be treasured.
Looking around, as Eric and I counted down the outs until the Phillies clinched a World Series berth, I flashed back in time once again to October 13th, 1993. My most vivid memories of that night are of the final out (Mitch Williams striking out Bill Pecota of the Braves) and celebrating with the phans all around me. Hugging strangers was never more normal or welcomed. I told Eric all of this, and I hope that he'll remember 2009 NLCS game 5 as fondly as I remember that 1993 game.
I thank Eric for providing me with an opportunity to time travel in my mind, and I thank the Phillies for helping a family bond and share special times. Phans, no matter your age, never take this team and their accomplishments for granted. We are all watching what is potentially the greatest group of players to ever represent our city and our region on a baseball field.
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