Twenty years later, on the evening my daughter was born at Jefferson Hospital in Center City, Lenny Dykstra blew out his shoulder crashing into that wall. The padding came the following year but was too late for Nails.
The Braves downed the Phils that night in '72. Hank Aaron drove one into the tarp over the left field bullpen. Aaron had the fastest bat I'd ever seen - except for Richie Allen.
We would make other trips to the vet, including Steve Carlton's win over the Reds to give him the consecutive win mark. The highlight of my Veterans Stadium experiences had to be game six of the 1980 World Series. My older brother and I went with tickets from a family friend who pitched relief for the Royals that year. Our seats were in the Royals wives section. When Tug got the final out, we were the only ones in that section cheering. It was horrifying to see the mounted policemen and dogs that ringed the playing field that night. While I was happy the Phils won, I was never so embarrased and ashamed for the city and its reputation as that night. The Royals wives were horrified and some fled in fear of being overrun by dogs and horses.
My travels have taken me away from Philadelphia. I'll miss the dank and dripping Vet, the stale pretzels and flat beer. But it was in that stadium that I watched Mike Schmidt and Steve Carlton, the two best ever in my opinion.
I'm looking forward to my first trip to the new park. Years ago, I heard Richie Ashburn say to Harry Kalas, "Harry, I hope I live long enough to see the Phillies play on real grass once again." If I ever get a chance to walk on the new field, I'll be sure to say 'This one's for you Whitey!'