The Old Ballgame: 6/14/04

A little writeup of a game I attended long ago.

Monday, June 14, 2004

Reds at Phillies

Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA

I was stoked for my first visit to Citizens Bank Park. I was back home from college, able to attend a Monday night contest that was previously scheduled for April but postponed due to rain. I scored a cheap ticket, took the regional rail train and Broad Street Line subway to the ballpark, and got my first glimpse of the Phils’ new home.

It’s difficult to overestimate the impact Citizens Bank Park had upon its opening. While I nostalgically romanticize about the Phils’ former home of Veterans Stadium, the concrete donut with its crackling-hot turf – and the effects it may have had for unfortunate ballplayers over the years – truly was one of the worst stadiums in baseball history. It had little character, was aesthetically displeasing, had no redeeming food or beverage options, and in some corners smelled of urine. In comparison, CBP was a godsend. Brick and steel, angular, chock full of great food and drink, and much more hospitable to fans. Nearly 20 years later it remains one of the game’s top ballparks.

My first game happened to be a potentially monumental one, too. Phils’ slugger Jim Thome was sitting on 399 home runs entering the contest, but even better, the Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr. was at 499. While I was a massive Phillies fan, I was more of a Griffey supporter than a Thome supporter at the time. I wanted badly to see both guys swat their landmark shots.

Unfortunately, Griffey was benched so he could have the opportunity to hit 500 at home the next day. (It didn’t happen; in fact, Griffey didn’t hit 500 for another six days, in St. Louis.) But Thome played, and down 2-0 in the first inning, with Jimmy Rollins on base, he cranked one to deep left field. No. 400. Thome didn’t waste time.

I don’t remember much else from the game. The Reds apparently took a 5-3 lead into the bottom of the fifth, when the Phils snatched the lead for good thanks in part to a Rollins RBI triple scoring pinch hitter Chase Utley (he was still mostly a bench bat at the time). The Phils ultimately won 10-7, though I had to leave early to catch the train home. It rained consistently throughout. The Phils sent all-time relievers Ryan Madson, Rheal Cormier, Roberto Hernandez, Tom Worrell, Geoff Geary, and Billy Wagner to the mound that day. Both Sean Casey and Jason LaRue of the Reds homered twice. An eventful game with a historical moment. Not bad!

Box Score: Baseball Reference

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