Cocks in the Hen House 07.21.10


By Ian Dixon (@dixonij)

Oh, the All-Star Game. How you’ve become a glitzy festival for corporate sponsorships and preening superstars. You even have a purpose in the grand scheme of things (please don’t even get me started on how ridiculous those “This Time it Counts” taglines are) thanks to that lovely tie game a few years back. This year, though, something happened at the All-Star Game that hasn’t happened in 14 years: The National League won.

Where might you ask was the last ASG that the NL won? Great question. If you’re reading this blog you probably already know the 1996 game was in… that’s right: Philadelphia.

To put it in perspective for you, the 1996 Phillies had only one All Star (Ricky Bottalico), finished with a 67-95 record in Jim Fregosi’s last year as skipper, saw the first appearance of Scott Rolen, and even fielded our fearless GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. (.316 BA, .380 OBP, .453 SLG, .833 OPS in 117 at bats for your sabernerds out there). But enough about that edition of the Fightin’ Phils and back to the spectacle the venerable Veterans Stadium hosted that July.

Nine-year-old me was thrilled at the fact I was going to be able to get to see all these superstars strut their stuff. I really have my stepdad to thank for getting me as into the Phillies as I am. We had season tickets in box seats right on the field in section 101, and we were able to secure those same seats for the batting practice and home run derby day. That 1996 Derby was a veritable who’s who of the coming Steroid Era in the first 3 spots: Barry Bonds won over Mark McGuire with Brady Anderson finishing in 3rd. Even Joe Carter participated (hit 2 home runs) and was booed mercilessly by the Philly faithful who still were stung by ’93. It was a great, but hot, day. Look at the temperature record and you’ll say “but it was only in the mid 80s that day!” But if anyone remembers the Vet, that place would become a pressure cooker with the sun beating off the old Astroturf covered playing surface. We had a security guard tell us it was about 105 on the field thanks to the sun. Hot as hell? Yeah. Tons of fun anyway? Oh yeah.

The next night the real game began – and it didn’t count! (Curse you Bud Selig!) There were a few memorable moments outside the 6-0 victory the NL All-Stars pulled off (the game was in the bag in the bottom of the first). The one of the biggest moments came with final All-Star appearance of the great Ozzie Smith. I still can remember the thunderous applause he received as he took the field. To this day I can only remember one other game I went to at the Vet where the place felt more alive and – the 1993 pennant clincher against the Braves.

Now I know Citizens Bank Park has seen some fantastic games in light of the Phillies recent success, but it would be great to get the All-Star Game to the Bank – regardless of all the corporate glitz and glamour – for all the 9 year olds out there who could walk away with an unforgettable experience as I had back in ’96. Here’s to hoping our Phils can take advantage of the first NL All-Star game victory in 14 years.

Ian doesn’t own a blog nor does he write for any of the numerous popular Philadelphia sports blogs that populate the great wasteland that is the internet these days. What he is, however, is a diehard Philadelphia fan stuck deep behind enemy lines stationed with the US Army at Fort Hood, Texas. Ian can be found occasionally roaming the halls of his barracks wearing various Flyers and Phillies jerseys muttering about missing Wawa hoagies and green tea. While being forced to live in a land of Cowboy fans, he gets his Philly sports fix from twitter, text, blog, and *shudder* ESPN. He also had the great luck of living more than an hour or two drive of Philly for the first time in his life when a Philly sports team finally won the only championship of his 23 years on the planet. He mocked the Tomahawk chop in ’93, swears there’s nothing greater in the world than a Flyers home playoff game at the rink formerly known as the Wach, went to his only Eagles game just to see John Elway play, and simply refuses to acknowledge there’s a sport called basketball. He can be found on twitter here.

Editor’s Note: Go Navy, Beat Army.

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