Last Wednesday, I spent the day at Citizens Bank Park with over 100 women enjoying one of my favorite things – baseball. This day-long event featured an interactive clinic on the field with the Phillies coaches, Q&A sessions with Phillies broadcasters and other Phillies personnel. Also, there is time with a member of the team explaining some of the behind-the-scenes action.. and more!
After experiencing a ridiculous 16 inning game the night before, I arrived at the ballpark at 9am for breakfast in the Diamond Club a bit bleary eyed, yet excited, for the day. After being broken out into 4 “teams” (Team Ibanez, Team Howard, Team Moyer and my team – Team Rollins), we started with some time in the batting cages with hitting coach Greg Gross and bench coach Pete Mackanin learning some techniques to improve our time swinging at pitches from the plate.
After batting practice, we toured the clubhouse. While going from locker to locker, I made note of the interesting personal belongings stored by each player. I saw a glass skull in Werth’s locker (I did some investigating – this is actually a bottle of Crystal Skull vodka), Carlos Ruiz’s cleats with “CHOOCH” emblazoned on the heels, and my personal favorite, the Baume & Mercier watch boxes that were gifted to players by Roy Halladay in appreciation of helping him achieve the perfect game. Coach Charlie Manuel walked into the clubhouse during my inspection, and immediately walked back out. (After the previous night’s heartbreaking loss, I couldn’t blame him for being unsociable.)
From the clubhouse, we met up with first base coach and outfield/base running instructor Davey Lopes at first base for base running/base stealing instruction. Davey made some great points on running the bases, stealing bases, and why you should never dive head first to steal a base, in case Chase Utley’s injury didn’t teach you that already.) Next, we went off to fielding with third base coach Sam Perlozzo. Sam had our team taking ground balls and pop ups, showing us better ways of tracking balls and how to get a better throw when trying to get an out. The personal highlight of my day was pitching with pitching coach Rich Dubee and bullpen coach Mick Billmeyer. While instructing us on throwing different kinds of pitches and a good stance for throwing, both coaches were really funny, playing off each other well and quite entertaining. When asking what really is said when he heads out to the mound in the middle of the game when no one is being taken out, Mick encouraged Rich to tell us what he said to Kyle Kendrick a few nights prior. Rich shared that he walked out to Kyle when he was struggling and said that he ‘had to get his shit straight because no one is warming up in the bullpen, it’s his game to win’. After throwing a few pitches, we headed back inside for lunch.
The rest of our afternoon was spent inside – we had a Q&A with David Montgomery inside the Diamond Club, discussing a range of topics from the audio in the ballpark (they’ll be looking into this) to a possible Phillies museum (currently no plans, they don’t have enough memorabilia) and the confirmation that there will be a Harry Kalas statue. Jamie Moyer followed David Montgomery and gave us a glimpse into his days on and off the field. It was lighthearted for a bit, explaining his schedule on pitching and non-pitching days onto a tearful conversation about his family and the two young Guatemalan children they recently adopted. We also had Phillies Communications representatives Bonnie Clark and Greg Casterioto discuss some of the aspects of their job. I have to be honest, when they were speaking I wasn’t paying attention as well as I had during the rest of the time in the Diamond Club – I was looking at silent auction items and bidding on them for Phillies Charities. Some of the items included tickets for a game including on field passes, as well as signed bats and balls.
Later, we headed into the press room to have some time with the delightful and always entertaining Charlie Manuel. I was under the impression when I signed up and paid for this everyone would be like me – knowledgeable about the game and interested to learn more about the “behind the scenes” aspect. I found out it wasn’t the case unfortunately – there was some extremely disturbing basic questions asked. My personal favorite: “Is the Charlie Manuel show live during rain delays?” Simple answer: “No”. (In case anyone wasn’t sure.)
After everything I had witnessed the night before, the next speaker was by far the one I was looking the most forward to: Sam Holbrook, MLB umpire. Sam came out to a mixed reaction unsurprisingly. I was interested to find out just how hard it is to become an umpire (there’s only 68 – the only way you can move up from the minors is for someone to die or retire) and how many people are watching what you do/how many people they have to answer to. After two nights in a row of watching Phillies getting ejected from the game (Charlie on Monday the 23rd, Charlie and Ryan on Tuesday the 24th), I assumed that it happened and it was over. There is a good amount of paperwork as well as discussions that are had with the umpire supervisors after every ejection. Even if they think they made the right call and no one fights it, there are still people watching – they have to defend and review calls to their superiors regardless. By the end of his Q&A, he won the majority of the ladies over with his perspective on the game and I found I had a greater respect for what they are doing out there – keeping an unbiased account of the game.
The last portion of our day was spent with the broadcasting crew of Wheels, Sarge, and Tmac. There wasn’t really much said that hasn’t been mentioned in a broadcast or an interview before, but they did talk for a few minutes about some great memories they have of Harry. Tmac specifically thanked us, the fans, for giving Harry one of his favorite memories – without the fans radio broadcasting wouldn’t have changed but thankfully it did and Harry was able to call the 2008 World Series when the Phils won it all. Towards the end of the time they spent with us, Wheels did confirm that he “doesn’t have the Tweeter” A “thank you” and gift bag later, we were sent off to have dinner on the terrace and enjoy the game.
I really recommend any ladies who are interested in a new perspective on some things, a little more “behind the scenes” action, and a chance to hear Wheels say “tweeter” to purchase a ticket for Baseball 101 next year. After all, it is for charity! (The ticket proceeds go to Phillies Charities.)
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