Author: Jonathan Cousins, SEAS’14
Last night, I hopped on SEPTA, and took the Broad Street Line down to AT&T station, and the Philadelphia sports complex. Upon my arrival, I saw many people walking towards the Wells Fargo Center, en route to the Sixers game. Farther along, Lincoln Financial Field and Citizens Bank Park sat, seemingly empty, as the Eagles are in the off-season and the Phillies were in San Francisco. But, at least for one night, there was baseball to be played, as Penn and St. Joes squared off in the final of the Liberty Bell Classic.
The Liberty Bell classic is a 20 year old tournament designed to allow the Philadelphia area schools to play each other in baseball. The tournament features eight teams, and the final two meet at Citizens Bank Park. Neither Penn nor St. Joes had ever won the tournament, so no matter who would win the game, it would be a new team engraved on the trophy.
As I walked up to the stadium, it was strange to see the third base gate closed off. Even when I got to the first base side, there were only two ticket windows open, and only one entrance gate. The Phillies and their 42,000 faithful create a buzz at the park that simply can’t be replicated. So, walking into the ballpark, many of the concessions stands were closed, and everyone was being funneled into the seven sections right behind home plate. It was almost like I could hear the ghosts of baseball whispering. I knew what sounds I expected to hear, but they weren’t there. There was no buzz of the crowd and no hot dog or beer vendors yelling. But it was still baseball, and there was something magical about seeing Penn’s entire roster being announced, and lining up in front of the dugout normally inhabited by major leaguers.
There were a lot of things missing from the park that night, but also many new things. It was strange looking out into the sea of empty blue seats, echoing the sounds of baseball across the stadium. But it was definitely the only time when $5 would allow me to sit directly behind home plate at a major league park. The Quaker also made an appearance, and quickly gained an entourage of five kids who followed him anywhere he went.
Once the game began, Penn fell behind on a home run early on, and failed to get the clutch hitting they needed to come back. Unfortunately, they lost 6-3. The night was something that I have never experienced before, getting to watch baseball in Citizens Bank Park with only 300 other people, and it was a lot of fun. Hopefully, next year. Penn will take home the title!