If you follow me on Twitter, you know that part of my bio reads “confused sports fan (Phillies & Steelers).” And it’s true.
I was born in western Pennsylvania in the middle of an ice storm, two days before the Los Angeles Raiders beat the Washington Redskins 38-9 in Superbowl XVIII. I’ve heard all kinds of stories about how my dad watched the game in my mom’s hospital room. My dad is the reason I’m a Steelers fan. I couldn’t & wouldn’t change football loyalties if you tried to pay me. [Okay. Maaaayyyyybeee for several million dollars & only if I didn’t have to be a Cleveland or Baltimore fan. But the possibility is slim. So close to none that it would have to be a really lucrative offer.] Babies have their first words, stuff like Mama, Dada, Baba. Then they have their first words. My husband’s was Kitty. Mine? Mine was Touchdown. No lie. It’s one of my parents’ favorite stories about me – my dad was watching a game, I stood up in my playpen, raised my arms above my head & declared “TUTDOWN!” Now do you want to tell me that I don’t bleed black & gold?
I had issues with baseball. A) If you don’t know what’s going on, it’s a pretty boring sport. B) As Jane Pitt, formerly known as PittGirl calls them, the Buccos of Suckitude haven’t had many winning seasons in my lifetime. C) It just wasn’t a sport that we watched. We lived for football season, but baseball & hockey weren’t really there for me. The first Phillies game I went to was August 4, 2005. Before that, the last professional baseball game I’d gone to consisted of seats in Peanut Heaven at Three Rivers Stadium while Barry Bonds was still a Pirate. That’s a pretty hefty stretch.
Shortly after I started dating M, I started a new job at a sports bar in Virginia. I was lucky enough to start at the beginning of football season & the first thing that the girls told me was to save as much money as I could, because summer was super slow. Football season was great money. It didn’t hurt that we were the place most Steelers fans came to watch the games, either [two big screen TVs in the downstairs area of the bar & they were generally both tuned to the Steelers]. Because we could wear jerseys, I made a lot of money off of those Sundays. While I sometimes question their sanity, the owners even imported Iron City Beer for the Steelers fans. I do need to point out that the season I worked there, the Steelers went 15-1 with a rookie quarterback & lost the AFC Championship game. So all in all, good season. The only time I can remember making really good money from baseball was when the Red Sox beat the Yankees for something. No idea & I’m too lazy to do the research right now. I just know that the guy who paid the tab was a Sox fan, was drunk & decided that the autogratuity wasn’t enough of a tip for me, even though I was honest to a fault & told him that it was there.
Anyway. M never really told me he was a baseball fan. We made the decision to move back to Delaware & then he mentioned to me that he was happy to be back in an area where he could watch the Phillies on a regular basis. I probably looked at him like he had five heads when he told me that because baseball was boring. Baseball season rolled around & I think I read a lot before the All Star break. He’d be watching baseball, I’d try to watch to be nice to him, I’d get bored, I’d read. Lather, rinse, repeat.
The week of the All Star game, I went back to Virginia for… some reason. I remember going to the sports bar that I’d worked at the night of the Home Run Derby to have a beer & catch up with old coworkers. I looked up at the screen at one point & saw that Bobby Abreu was winning. I remember thinking that M had to be so excited that a Phillie was doing so well & he ended up setting a huge record that night. When I got home, I decided that I was going to give baseball another chance.
All baseball teams have silly give aways during the season. One night, I glanced up from a book [I said I was going to try to give baseball a chance. I didn’t say it worked at first] & saw that they were giving away a Chase Utley Pride of the Phillies print at one of the upcoming games. There was no way that M could get off of work for it, so I decided to go to the game with two of our friends. I had a great time at that game. The guys were good about telling me what was going on & I remarked to one of them that I’d never seen a grand slam, not even on a televised game. Two or three pitches later, Bobby Abreu blasted a grand slam. If you think that hooked me on baseball, you would be correct. I positively gushed when I talked toM about the game that night. After that game, I started actually paying attention to the TV when he would turn the Phillies on.
Since then, I’ve been to two opening days, two fan appreciation days, spring training, several play off games, had tickets for Game 4 of the World Series [Oh, please. Don’t ask.] & got to go to the 2008 World Series victory parade. I was at the game when the Phillies clinched the NL East on the very last day of the season. The electricity in the stadium that day was… absolutely incredible. I don’t think that I’ll ever forget that game. I don’t know what it was about the game that I went to with Dan & Geoff, but that pulled me into baseball. Not just the Phillies, but baseball. I surprised M in 2006 with a trip to Chicago because he’d always wanted to go to Wrigley Field. There are some parts of baseball where M’s knowledge can’t touch mine. History stuff? I blow him out of the water. Phillies trivia? I suck at it when up against him.
We joked that Butter could be a fan of any baseball team that he wanted… as long as it wasn’t the Mets, Braves, Marlins, Nationals, or Yankees, but we knew that he’d be a baseball fan. He’s already been to his first game & loved it. Opening night, we couldn’t get him to go to bed – he heard Harry Kalas’s voice on the TV & refused to dose the way he usually did while drinking his last bottle. I have a feeling we’ve created a monster.
All in all, the past year has been amazing for me as a sports fan. World Series champs, Super Bowl champs, baseball team on top of their division. I will never not be a Steelers fan. Football is my first love. Baseball has taken up a huge part of my heart & not just the Phillies. I might’ve even been watching & tweeting during Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I’m not a hockey fan yet, but you never know. Maybe one day I’ll go to a game, talk about how I’ve never seen a hat trick & then… BAM. You might have a crazy hockey fan on your hands.