I was a high school senior before I saw the 9th inning of a Phillies game in person.

Too young to truly appreciate the magic and heartache of the 1993 playoff series, my siblings and I were condemned to more than a decade of mediocrity.

About Mike Lieberthal becoming a favorite player.

Celebrating second place in the division.

Reasonably priced tickets.

And yet baseball was the soundtrack to our summer. Harry Kalas’ cheery shouts of “out here” came from my father’s radio, which could be found anywhere from his newspaper on the back porch to the deck of a small sailboat in the middle of Peace Valley Reservoir. When the crowd roared, the nearest kid was in charge of turning up the volume so we could hear what we all missed while pretending to hit home runs like Mike Schmidt.

When Little League started each year, we groaned when we were reassigned to be on the Cubs or the Orioles or, God forbid, the Yankees.

“They stink,” remarked the grandfather. However, he continued to show up hours before meals to join us around the TV for one last outing or until Mom called us…again…to the table.

And every now and then the seven Caseys piled into the family Suburban with enough sandwiches to feed the team and drive more than an hour to Veterans Stadium. With a 10-year age difference between the oldest and youngest child, it was possible for my parents to juggle being a bored teenager and a cranky child at the same time. The sweet spot on the spectrum, somewhere between diaper changes and Tamagotchi fads, was when nothing mattered but watching baseball. Even the mediocre Phillies were freaks of nature, able to hit a 100 mph fastball farther than my normal bike ride. The fans at the infamous 700 level were just as entertaining as the product on the field, if not more so.

And then, whether the team won, lost, or was in a nail-biting tie, we packed up what was left of our sandwiches and headed down to the parking lot to beat the traffic. If we had timed it right, we would have heard Phyllis as soon as we turned on the car radio. And of course we’ll be leaving the parking lot before the masses can get out of the vet.

I hated it. After all, we were there to watch baseball.

The next night I’m still reeling from it while the next game is on TV in the afternoon. By the weekend game on the radio, I was done.

Citizen’s Bank Park opened in 2004 and I was a senior in high school. Getting St. Joe to the ballpark was only a 20 minute subway ride, longer if we stopped for cheesesteaks along the way. And my friends and I stayed until the final inning, even in extra innings. Mike Lieberthal was still with the team, but took a backseat to Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. It was what I expected.

A few years later, these young prospects became absolute stars. In the blink of an eye, the Phillies turned from “the team to beat” into the world champion. I lived in State College year-round and rarely went to a game in person, but I never missed one on TV. Watching the 2008 World Series Finals with some of my closest friends is a memory I will cherish forever. It was what I expected.


I was making plans to come home for the first championship of my life. I would meet up with friends, arrive early and stay until the official close. I called my grandfather to check in and tell him my plans, but before I could, he asked if I wanted to come watch it on TV. I did not. I wanted to fill the train with strangers and throw a beer at Pat Burrell as he passed. But I said yes and canceled plans with friends.

Grundy and I grabbed a La-Z-Boy for a bowl of his legendary chili and sat too close to the too-big TV.

“It’s what I’ve been waiting for,” he said.

Not the championship.

Not a parade.

Not the 9th inning I begrudgingly missed as a kid.

But celebrate these events with family. And chili.

When I got an email last week offering to buy World Series tickets at face value, I was very happy. A colleague asked me if I could work the rest of the day. (Hardly, was the reply.) “Who will get your second ticket?” she asked.

That night I called my dad and told him I got the tickets and I wanted him to be alone. “Don’t you have any friends?” – he asked lightly. I laughed, but before I answered, I thought of La-Z-Boys, chili, and radio shows, and Harry Kalas and Mike Libertalo.

“It’s what I’ve been waiting for.”

Terrence Casey lives in Springfield, Delaware with his wife and three children, whom he takes to several Phillies games each year, almost always staying until the 9th inning.