October 2, 2004: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Shortly after the 2003 season, the Philadelphia Phillies left Veterans Stadium and moved across the street to their new home, Citizens Bank Park. The 2004 season promised to be a memorable one. The Phillies added closer Billy Wagner to their bullpen and starter Eric Milton to the rotation. These acquisitions, along with their new home, were supposed to put the Fighting Phils over the top. What followed was a season of discontent, as the Phillies failed to meet expectations.
Citizens Bank Park offered Phillies fans everything Veterans Stadium did not. The seating capacity of 43,000 allowed for a more intimate ballpark experience. The grass playing field saved the Phillies many injuries, as the Veterans Stadium AstroTurf was considered the worst in all of professional sports. Ashburn’s Alley offered Citizens Bank Park visitors a festive, history-filled, outdoor entertainment area located on the outfield concourse. All of these features make Citizens Bank Park one of the best ballparks in Major League Baseball
October 2, 2004: Game 161. The Phillies and Florida Marlins were wrapping up the 2004 season. Although both teams finished the season above .500, it was a disappointing year for both. All of this is secondary because that night will be remembered as the night Rachel, Reaghan and I first went to a ballpark together! Baseball and children go together like peanut butter and jelly, a perfect combination. Reaghan was excited to see her first game. She rooted for the Phillies and met the famed Philly Phanatic. Reaghan caught onto baseball pretty quickly; I taught her two cheers: “Go Phillies” and “Hit a Home Run.” That evening was the beginning of an interest in baseball for Reaghan, who enjoyed spending time at Citizens Bank Park (although it might have been the cotton candy, hot dog, cheese steak and soda combo that she ate while at the game). I was proud to take my two girls to the game and plan for more in the future. I tease Reaghan that we are going to plan her college visits around ballpark trips. Maybe she can be the first in her class to visit all 30 Major League ballparks! Hey, I can dream, can’t I?