NEWSLETTER SIGNUP

Guest Commentary: Best Game Ever

A Philadelphia father recreates a birthday trip to Citizens Bank Park for his baseball-crazy 10-year-old

A Philadelphia father recreates a birthday trip to Citizens Bank Park for his baseball-crazy 10-year-old

My son attended his first Phillies game at 6 weeks old and each April since, we’ve celebrated his birthday at the ballpark.

Elliot and I love everything about those trips, from the taste of the hotdogs to the boundless optimism marking the start of a new season. It is his—and my— favorite tradition.

Elliot turns 10 this week and, despite the stress of homeschooling three kids, fretting over my grandmother’s health, and trying to keep a small business running, I am most anxious about disappointing my boy.

He’s been looking forward to our annual pilgrimage since Christmas. The week before his birthday he tells me, “Dad, I know we can’t go to a game this year. It’s okay.”

The look that follows is a punch to my gut. It is also the moment I decide, pandemic or not, we are going.

Elliot’s brother and sister are all in on my plan. In fairness, they are usually on “Team Dad” when it comes to ambitious half-baked ideas. My wife, more discerning, pushes for details. But, that’s okay; I’m used to plowing ahead with neither the details fully sorted nor her enthusiastic approval.

Game day arrives. My crew (ages 8 and 5) and I are busy prepping while Elliot waits, unaware of our plan, in his room. I holler for him to put on his Harper jersey and Phillies hat, adding to his confusion.

My perfectionist daughter has taken things to the next level, setting up a security check at the entrance to our living room and insisting I empty my pockets before examining our tickets.

Philly dad recreates seminal Phillies game for his son during Covid-19—complete with popcorn and hotdogs
Mike’s daughter helps out by taking tickets and serving popcorn—if the price is right!

We settle into our seats and it’s a sell-out crowd. The furry guy next to me wears a baseball glove but no pants. It’s Game 5 of the 2008 World Series, the game that Elliot once told me he wished he could attend more than any other.

1st Inning: My 5-year-old starts whining relentlessly for ice cream in a helmet. We’re only on the second batter of the game. I give in. This is even more like the real thing than I thought it would be.

Philly dad recreates seminal Phillies game for his son during Covid-19—complete with a scoreboard and souvenirs.
Mike’s other son mans the ice cream-in-helmet dessert table

2nd Inning: It’s Dollar Dog Night! I pass money down the row but when my hot dogs come back, one is missing a bite. I try to order a beer and the vendor, who looks underage, tells me she is going to need “more bucks.” I protest, but also, this seems fair.

Philly dad recreates seminal Phillies game for his son during Covid-19
Mike’s daughter also sells hot dogs—some of which (allegedly!) she takes a bite out of before serving

3rd Inning: Here comes the Phanatic… in the middle of the inning?! He stops directly in front of the screen, prompting the older two kids to yell at the 5-year-old who is pushing the Batmobile doubling as the Phanatic’s four-wheeler.

Philly dad recreates seminal Phillies game for his son during Covid-19—complete with a Phanatic
The Phanatic rolls through in the Batmobile. Cool!

5th Inning: I forgot how big Ryan Howard is and how raptly his every at-bat holds my attention. My wife looks up from her book to say wistfully, “Look at Cole Hamels. His hair flows in the wind.”

6th Inning: The Rays tie it and my son angrily throws his popcorn. I’m both annoyed at the mess and proud of his passion. I realize that time has not softened my view that Joe Buck (calling the game) is rooting against the Phils.

7th Inning: Chase Utley fires home for a clutch out! I love Harper, Hoskins and Nola… but Chase will always be “The Man.”

9th Inning: Brad Lidge throws strike three and we erupt with the glory of being World Champions of Baseball! It’s a pile on, both on the field and in my living room.

My kids crawl sleepily into bed and my wife smiles at our boy. I hug him tightly as he whispers, “I love you, Dad. That was the best game I’ve ever been to.”

Me too, son.

Mike Wang and his son Elliot after a recreated Phillies game in their living room during Covid-19
Memories worth cherishing

Mike Wang shares a South Philadelphia row home with his wife and three opinionated kids, all of whom are devout Phillies fans. He’s a firm believer that great fans have long memories, sometimes boo and always show up… and that roast pork is superior to cheesesteaks.

The Philadelphia Citizen will only publish thoughtful, civil posts. We reserve the right to remove offensive commentary.

Be a Citizen Editor

Suggest a Story