Times Chronicle & Public Spirit

‘It’s a once in a lifetime thing’

Phillies fans say being at the Bank an unforgetta­ble experience

- By David Mekeel dmekeel@readingeag­le.com

Brad Bechtel had visited Citizens Bank Park many times before.

The passionate Phillies fan had made countless trips from his home in Spring City to the ballpark to catch a game. He'd cheer, he'd eat, he'd relax and have a good time.

Tuesday was different. Much, much different.

“I've never seen that many people try to get into the ballpark before,” he said of his experience at Game 3 of the World Series. “It was a mass of people, the number of bodies trying to get in there was insane.

“But everybody was having a good time. People were high-fiving each other, it was fun.”

Before Tuesday, it had been 4,747 days since Philadelph­ia last hosted a World Series game. And the Phillies fans that poured into the stadium to watch their team take on the Houston Astros were more than a little amped up for it.

“The energy started before we even got in,” Bechtel said.

And it didn't let up.

Game 3 was perfect storm of fanatical fans and winning baseball. The Phillies dominated the contest, fueling those screaming themselves hoarse in support and appreciati­on.

Bechtel, who had seats in left field, said the packed house was standing and at a fever pitch for the national anthem and ceremonial first pitches. A quick top of the first, including a sliding catch by right fielder Nick Castellano­s, kicked things up a notch.

And then, in the bottom of the first, superstar Bryce Harper stepped to the plate and set off a nuclear explosion.

“It was already loud when Bryce came up,” Bechtel said. “And then, first pitch. As soon as he hit it you knew it was gone.”

Harper hit a majestic two-run homer to right field, giving the Phillies a lead they wouldn't relinquish. The reaction from the crowd was so intense it registered as an earthquake at a lab 20 miles away.

“It felt like an earthquake,” Bechtel said of being in the midst of the madness. “I've never heard anything that loud.”

The 52-year-old Bechtel said he and the rest of the fans didn't really calm down much for the rest of the game. A record-tying five home runs and a 7-0 win will do that.

“My hand is still a little red from slapping hands of people I didn't even know,” he said Wednesday. “I'm a little tired today, we got back in town a little after 1 a.m. But it was worth it, it was worth every penny.

“Everyone realizes it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing and you try to get the most out of it.”

A bucket list game

When Bobbi and Mark Helms decided to buy season ticket plans for next season for their grandsons as presents, they had no idea it would lead to a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

“Little did I know that it would give me an opportunit­y to buy postseason tickets this year,” Bobbi Helms said.

Bobbi said she and her husband, who has Parkinson's disease, were able to trade in their four tickets for Game 3 for two accessible seats just beneath the jumbotron in left field at Citizen's Bank Park.

The couple initially traveled from their home in Layafette Hill to Philadelph­ia on Monday. They were already seated in the stands when it was announced that the game was postponed due to rain.

So, they went home and headed back down to the ballpark the next day.

“It was actually great because we got double scarves and towels,” Bobbi Helms said, referring to items the team handed out to fans.

Bobbie Helms said the crowd Tuesday was “fabulous, but very Philly.” Along with cheering for the Phillies, she admitted there was also quite a bit of razzing the Astros.

“People were yelling ‘Houston sucks' and ‘Cheater, cheater, cheater,'” she said.

As the game began, Bobbi Helms said she and her husband found themselves swept up in the excitement.

“It was such an amazing experience to be in there in a sea of waving red towels,” she said.

And when Harper hit his home run, it created a moment neither of them will ever forget.

“I was like speechless,” Bobbi Helms said. “It was just so crazy, people were jumping and screaming and waving towels. People are kissing and hugging.”

With her 70 years old and her husband 72, Bobbi Helms said she doesn't think either of them will ever have another similar experience.

“How many more games like that are we going to see?” she said. “It's a once-in-alifetime thing. I call it a bucket list game.”

A crazy week

By Thursday, Colleen Moyer was pretty tired.

She has attended every World Series game so far, including Games 1 and 2 in Houston. Both her son and her daughter's boyfriend work for the Phillies, which means her fandom extends beyond just enjoying baseball.

“You could say my family's livelihood depends on them,” she said.

Moyer, who lives in Reading, said the experience of going to games in Houston was a far cry from what she found at Citizens Bank Park.

“Houston is so different than Philly,” she said. “Phillies fans don't sit down the whole game.”

That was especially true during Game 3. “It was electric,” she said of the feel inside the stadium. “Game 3 was a crazy type of feeling as soon as you walked through the doors. Just the anticipati­on — it was the first World Series game there since 2009 — the crowd was ready for it.”

Moyer said that as soon as Harper stepped to the plate in the bottom of the first inning, she could feel electricit­y swelling in the crowd. And when he went deep on the first pitch, it unleashed pandemoniu­m.

“It felt out of this world,” she said. “It just did not feel real.”

That out-of-body experience didn't end. “After the fourth homer we were all looking at each other going, ‘Is this real?'” she said.

Of course, it's tough to maintain the high of Tuesday night. Moyer said the crowd at Wednesday's Game 4 felt more reserved.

“The crowd felt like everyone was hung over, but not on alcohol,” she said. “They had a game hangover.”

Perhaps they had a premonitio­n of what was coming.

The Phillies lost that game in historic fashion, becoming only the second team to ever be no-hit in a World Series game on their way to a 5-0 loss. Moyer said she is counting on that game being just a blip.

“I'm hoping everyone got their cobwebs out,” she said shortly before heading out for Thursday's Game 5.

‘It’s been fun’

Erika Braun and Michael Yenser have

been with the Phillies for every step of their march through the postseason.

The couple have loved going to Phillies games for years, usually finding their way to five or six each season. This year, they decided to get a partial season ticket plan that allowed them to attend more than 20.

“It's our thing, we just always have a good time,” Braun said.

It also gave them a chance to get their hands on postseason tickets.

The Bernville couple watched the Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves and the San Diego Padres. Then, they watched them blow out the Astros in Game 3.

Braun said she usually likes games that aren't particular­ly crowded. They provide a break on things like traffic and long bathroom lines.

But she said she's been happy to trade those niceties for the playoff experience.

“It's been a lot of fun,” Braun said. “Oh my gosh, it's been fun.”

Yenser said he could feel a slow build of the excitement in the ballpark on Tuesday. It hit a crescendo with Harper's home run.

“I said to her when he came up, ‘Maybe he can make this place go crazy,'” he said. He most certainly did.

“As soon as he hit it, we knew we were going to win,” Braun said.

Yenser said that crowd's reaction to Harper's home run was unlike anything he has ever experience.

“You can't even hear yourself think,” he said. “I couldn't even talk to her right beside me. It's louder than a rock concert.

“It's really cool. It really is. For a few minutes, everybody is on the same page.”

Yenser said it was clear the crowd couldn't get enough of the success the Phillies had Tuesday. They wanted to bask in it for as long as they could.

“After the game, you could tell people didn't want to leave,” he said. “Nobody wants to go anywhere, they just hang out.”

Yenser said he doesn't know why Phillies fans act that way, why their dedication to their team seems to be so much greater than fans of other teams. Maybe, he said, its just how people who live near Philadelph­ia are wired.

“Everyone is passionate about everything they do,” he said. “They're rabid animals. They love what they love, and they really

love it.”

A family affair

Kelly Rupp-George comes from a family of Phillies fans.

In particular, her grandfathe­r, Preston Rohrbaugh, was dedicated to the team.

He would travel to see the Phils in spring training in Clearwater, Fla. He would go to as many games as he could. And when COVID forced the team to play without fans in 2021, a cutout of his face was one of the ones plastered on a seat inside Citizens Bank Park.

Rohrbaugh passed away in late September, just before his beloved Phillies began their epic postseason run that has placed them on baseball's biggest stage. So, to honor him, Rupp-George's mom, Suzy Watrous, decided to get World Series tickets for the family.

Rupp-George, her mom, step-dad and brother headed down to Philadelph­ia for Game 4 on Wednesday night.

And while the result of the game wasn't what they were hoping for, she said they enjoyed themselves nonetheles­s.

“It's not the outcome we wanted, but it was still a great atmosphere,” she said. “It was great to be there.”

Rupp-George, who lives in Wernersvil­le, said there was a lot of energy in the ballpark, at least at first.

“Up until the fifth inning it was an electric feeling,” she said.

That's when the Astros took control of the game, scoring five runs.

Despite the trajectory of the game, RuppGeorge said the fans in attendance didn't give up hope.

“Everybody was standing, everybody was cheering the whole time,” she said. “Nobody gave up the entire time.”

Rupp-George was also able to keep some perspectiv­e, admitting that getting to see history made with a World Series no-hitter — even at the expense of her team — was pretty neat.

“It was great to witness it,” she admitted. “We still saw history being made.”

And, she added, the game at least didn't end the Phillies season. They still have games to play and, hopefully, to win.

“I want the Phillies in six, obviously,” Rupp-George said with a laugh.

 ?? CHRIS SZAGOLA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? Fans arrive at Citizens Bank Park for Game 4of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelph­ia Phillies on Wednesday.
CHRIS SZAGOLA — THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Fans arrive at Citizens Bank Park for Game 4of the World Series between the Houston Astros and the Philadelph­ia Phillies on Wednesday.
 ?? COURTESY OF BOBBI HELMS ?? Bobbi and Mark Helms of Layafette Hill, Montgomery County, called Game 3of the World Series a “bucket list game.”
COURTESY OF BOBBI HELMS Bobbi and Mark Helms of Layafette Hill, Montgomery County, called Game 3of the World Series a “bucket list game.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States