Baseball: The Phillies, the Series & the Nine-Year-Old Crush

by Suzie Raven

When I was nine, most girls played with My Little Pony and loved Rainbow Brite. I collected baseball cards and adored all of the Philadelphia Phillies, but most fervently, catcher Darren Daulton.

I can still picture Pete Incaviglia’s somersault catches (hilarious) and Lenny Dykstra’s mouth full of chewing tobacco (gross). I rarely see a pick-up truck commercial without thinking of John Kruk. These were the things of my childhood.

The Phillies danced their way (okay, scraped their way) to Game 7 of the World Series during that magical 1993 season. By the time Joe Carter broke my heart with his bottom of the ninth, walk off home run to win everything for the Blue Jays, I was hooked on baseball in a hopeless, irreversible way.

Since then, I have watched first base pass from John Kruk to Rico Brogna and now to Ryan Howard. I saw Mike Lieberthal take over for Darren Daulton at catcher in 1994 and stay with the Phillies for 13 long, heartbreaking playoff-less years. Now, Carlos Ruiz has stepped up to (okay, behind) the plate.

My boss spent a week with Daulton at a conference we planned last February. I still remind him of how much I would’ve loved to meet Darren, and he still reminds me that he got me an autographed picture. (If you are reading this, yes, I’m still grateful.)

As if that’s not enough, he will have tickets to see Philadelphia in the World Series. With Daulton. Basically, he will live my dream. Like Carter’s home run, this is a typical story in the life of a Philadelphia fan. Always so close we can feel it, but never quite close enough.

If the Phillies (knock on wood) win the 2008 World Series, I will be thrilled. Victory will be even sweeter because I’m not expecting it.

I know there’s a nine-year-old out there who loves Ryan Howard more than Hannah Montana. She will never forget the 2008 Phillies, no matter what the outcome. Just like the 1993 team will always stay with me.

(To see Suzie Raven's early prediction about the success of the Phillies, please see: "Baseball: The Phillies' Secret Weapon, the Bullpen." For other pieces about the Phillies, please see: "Brotherly Sports Love: Kinship Forged by Failure;" "Baseball: The Phillies Corner the Brewers & Sabathia," and "Baseball: The Phillies Head to the NLCS." FOX Sports will televise the first game of the World Series, beginning Wednesday, Oct. 22 at 8 p.m. EDT.)

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