Vet Memories: 'Twas The Third Week In August

I still recall the plane gently touching down in Philadelphia. After so many years of cheers, tears and fears, I was finally here! Philadelphia, PA; home of liberty, the founding fathers, and my Philadelphia Phillies! Even though I had seen Phillie games before, both in San Francisco and Los Angeles, this was my first visit to Veterans Stadium. The year was 1976 and I would be cheering WITH the crowd for my beloved Phillies! Here, in poetry form, are the memories of my initial trip to the Vet.

‘Twas the third week in August
And from Ben Franklin on down
A 1976 Bicentennial pennant
Was the talk of the town!

The timing was perfect
For my first trip to the Vet
I made all appropriate plans
My vacation was set!

The flight to the East Coast
Was as smooth as can be
Three Phil's games this weekend
Would be all mine to see.

The first thing I did
When the plane safely set down
Was to look for the Daily News
Would the face have a smile… or a frown?

It was cute, it was trendy
Sad face for a loss, happy face for a win
On the corner of the front page
Was a round face with a grin!

Carlton had won easily Thursday night
8-1 over the ‘Stros,
Houston seemed a good team to watch
A team we should beat, a very weak foe.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday games,
Phils will win, yes they should
Starting pitchers looked solid
Twitchell, Kaat, Underwood.

Rent a car and off the to the Vet
Not a minute to dally
No way would I miss
Even one Phillie rally!

And what to my wide eyes
On the Vet carpet should appear
But a lineup with Cash, Bowa, Schmidt, Boone
Left very little to fear.

On Johnstone, on Maddox,
On Oates and Luzinski
With Twitch on the hill
A certain win I would see!

But Houston played well
On this hot Friday night.
Cruz, Cabell and Cedeno
They did everything right.

Though the star of the game
The ‘Stros pitcher on the hill
Dan Larson was tough
A Bull bell-ringer home run, the one thrill.

8-3 was the final
Not exactly a pretty sight
Yet I was hopeful that Saturday
The Phils would continue to fight.

Saturday was spent
touring Philadelphia's historical sites
The Liberty Bell, Independence Hall,
And the Bill of Rights.

I was filled with such pride
It still gives me the chills
To be at the birthplace of America
And my Philadelphia Phils!

Now back to the Vet
Come on Phillies, let's go!
I haven't been this excited
Since 1964, the "Year of the Blue Snow!"

Game two was on tap
JR Richard on the hill
His fastball like bee bees
No larger than a pill.

With veteran Jim Kaat
I hoped for the best
Try to keep the score low
Play it close to the vest.

The lineups were similar
To the night before
But please Phils, a different result
Oh please, not the same score.

Yet for four and a half innings
It looked like a trend
The score, 4-1 Astros,
Was I a jinx, and not a friend?

Then Hutton pinch hit for Kaat
And singled to right
Cash and Bowa singled also,
A most welcome sight!

But Schmidtty struck out
And left the crowd with sad faces
Until Luzinski drew a walk
Which loaded the bases!

Then Johnstone grounded out
4-3 stood the score
37,000 fans at the edge of their seats
Cheering and hoping for more!

Garry Maddox then singled
The game was now tied
Suddenly, Howard made an error,
"5-4, Phils", the fans cried!

7-4 was the final
Christenson and Reed had their stuff
To save the win for Jim Kaat
Who pitched five innings, just barely enough.

Now it was Dierker vs. Underwood
In the Sunday finale
Phils give us a solid victory
Without having to rally!

My last day at the Vet
So many new friends did I make
That another Phillie victory
Would add icing on the cake!

Yet a win did I want
To finish my stay
Punctuate my first trip
In a victorious way!

And a win I would get
Underwood was on top of his game
As the Phils took the lead
In only the second frame.

A single, double, then triple
From Tolan, Johnstone and Boone
With a 3-0 deficit
Larry Dierker was gone soon.

The Phils continued to hit
The score soon 5-1, but not another
Knuckle-baller Joe Niekro now pitching
Phil Niekro's younger brother.

Though he dazzled the Phils
In his three innings of twirling
No chance did he have
Not with Underwood hurling!

A Jose Cruz four bagger
Was Houston's only run
My first visit to the Vet was victorious
And oh so much fun!

As I boarded the plane
And back home did I fly
"Tote home a Phillie pennant"
Was my final battle cry!

Even though I've been back
Witnessed Phils teams, fair and the worst,
My 1976 visit to the Vet
Was my best… and the first!

Columnist's Note: I welcome suggestions, questions and comments. Please send them to connectthedots@earthlink.net and I will respond! CD

Philly Baseball Insider Top Stories