upon entering the stadium. After 13 years of knowing nothing but the Orioles and Junior circuit, I discovered the joys of National League baseball.
It was all so exotic, and different, and after watching the National League on TV all those years and only being able to see a Saturday game of the week or the rare Monday Night baseball game with the Dodgers or Cubs or Cardinals, this was the real deal!
Baseball the way God meant for it to be played!
In a circular concrete stadium! With bright day-glow green Astroturf! And exploding scoreboards that sat in right field! The giant Liberty Bell on the centerfield roof. And pitchers got to hit (keep in mind, I was born in 1968 — I have no recollection of American League life before the DH). And they had ALL the players I’d only got to see on baseball cards and in Baseball Digest and The Sporting News.
Steve Garvey, Joe Morgan, Steve Carlton, Tom Seaver, Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose — all of the stars I got to see play on TV in Octobers and in the All Star Game in that camper in South Carolina, actually PLAYED at Veterans Stadium.
The linchpin in the whole deal was probably the Phabulous Phanatic, who rode on that four-wheel maniac machine across that beautiful bright green carpet and tortured all umpires and any player not wearing burgundy and white. He never stuck his nose out at me, but I always wish he would have.
The Phanatic is, and always will be, the greatest mascot in the history of sports!
So, sadly, in a turn of childish behavior and rebellion, I became a Phillies fan and all I wanted to do was go to Philadelphia and see NL teams play. I got there once a year until I learned to drive in 1984 and then I did at least a half dozen games a year until they ripped The Vet down.
And I just loved NL ball — the pitcher hitting, the strategy, the different brand of baseball and the fact that the games actually ended inside of three hours.
Honestly, at that point, how many more Indians or Brewers or Royals games could I see on 33rd Street? I wanted diversity. I wanted something different. In my petulant childish way, I wanted interleague play!
Again, I was just a stupid kid!
I had no idea that the idiot adults would actually AGREE with me a decade later.
But it’s like my Mom said: “Be careful what you wish for!”
I wished for interleague play as a child and ten years later, I still think it’s the worst thing baseball ever did, interleague play!