For those in the Drexel community who grew up in the greater Philadelphia area, the Phillies represent fond memories. Days at the ballpark (Veterans stadium and then later the wonderful Citizen’s Bank Park) recall memories made with family and friends. But let’s face it: for most, the Phillies also represented one thing coveted in Philadelphia: winning. Utley, Rollins, and Hamels were able to do the seemingly impossible — break the curse of William Penn and parade down Broad Street, World Series trophy in tow.
However, the dream that ran through the mid and late 2000s couldn’t last forever. The Phillies’ era of dominance petered off in 2012, snapping a streak of five consecutive National League East titles and dropping them into the dreaded rebuilding stage. The impressive sellout streak of 257 games came to an abrupt end and all enthusiasm around the team became decidedly muted.
The Phillies seem to be out to make a comeback and their marketing campaign touched down at Drexel last week in celebration of the opening day of Major League Baseball. Last Monday morning, a group from the Phillies (including the league’s most lovable mascot, the Phillie Phanatic) posted up at the corner of 33rd and Market Streets next to the Dragon statue to promote the MLB’s Caps On initiative. This nationwide program of giving away New Era baseball hats was meant to inspire excitement for the start of another baseball season, and it was by all accounts a rousing success. The hashtag movement #CapsOn dominated social media as fans from across the country (including national dignitaries, traders at the NY Stock Exchange, and TV personalities) shared their love for their teams and Drexel students were no different.
“What a day,” Blake Emerich said after receiving his free Phillies cap. “What’s better than a free hat?” he chuckled.
While the hats alone were a welcome surprise, the Phillies have also made a concerted effort to encourage college students to head down to Citizen’s Bank Park for a game. Last week, members of the Phillies were at the DAC handing out vouchers for free game tickets. If you weren’t one of the lucky few who received a voucher, there are still other options to attend a Phillies game that won’t break the budget. Campus Philly’s Open Arts Program, an organization for college students meant to promote social activities and appreciation for the arts around the city, has teamed up with the Phillies to offer a discount of $10 off of a regularly priced seat for a handful of games throughout the rest of the school year. (Go to phillies.com/students to see the list of games for yourself.)
One of these offerings was April 12, opening night at Citizen’s Bank Park. Even though the wind threatened to freeze out the fans on the upper level, the free t-shirts that were given away and the heaps of dollar hot dogs were able to warm our souls if nothing else. There were not the deafening cheers of a stadium packed to capacity, nor the chords of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” thrumming throughout the stadium, nor the familiar names that I and thousands of others grew up adoring. But a sense of hope pervaded the game that dispelled even the disappointing lack of nostalgia. The Phillies won that game 3-0 with the likes of Charlie Morton, Maikel Franco and Odubel Herrara, names that may not resonate like Halladay, Rollins and Victorino, but nonetheless seem poised to create a legacy of their own.
So as the weather warms, try to get out, take advantage of the cheap tickets and soak in a game at Citizen’s Bank Park. You may be unfamiliar with the names on the back of the jerseys, but you certainly won’t be disappointed.