An Unhappy Bus Driver [6th Inning]
The Philadelphia Phillies vs. Houston Astros 1980 play-off series was some of the best played baseball ever. All five games were nail-biting affairs; the first four low-scoring. The last four were one run affairs; three games went to extra innings. The scores were 3-1 Philadelphia wins game one; second game 3-3 going into the tenth, but Astros win; third game 1-0 Astros win in nine; then again extra innings in the fourth game, Phillies win 4-3. The final game was in Houston with the Phillies winning 8-7 in the 10th, after rallying for 5 runs in the 6th, thus advancing to the World Series. Wow!
At the time my parents were living in Philadelphia and I just happened to be flying back the morning after the Phillies clinched the pennant. It was my habit to take the city bus leaving the airport and then catch the Broad Street Subway to the Reading Terminal. I was the only passenger on the bus and the driver was swearing a blue streak stuck in traffic because of all the fans who turned out to greet their returning triumphant heroes. His route took him by the terminal where the Phillies chartered plane had just landed.
Sitting in my bus seat I was higher than all the screaming fans crushed up against the fence outside trying to get a glimpse of the players, so I had the best view when Manny Trillo stepped off the plane holding his series MVP trophy aloft, and the fans went wild. I couldn’t be enjoying the moment more, but the bus driver had passengers down the road waiting for him, and, even if he was a Phillies fan, couldn’t allow himself even a smile, despite my account of what we were watching.
The bus driver dropped me at the corner of Broad and Patterson to transfer to the subway, also the corner for Veterans Stadium, home of the Phillies. As I walked to the subway entrance I passed by the Phillies ticket booths. For ordinary fans getting a ticket to a World Series game is almost unheard of* – my only experience was with the ’59 White Sox where the newspapers showed a photo of all the ticket requests being stuffed into big burlap sacks and only one out of the dozens of sacks got picked – so I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw there was actually a ticket seller inside the booth with a green visor on looking like he was actually selling tickets. “Any tickets left?” I ask. “Only for the seventh game,” he answers, as if expecting they’d go unsold. So I bought two. Turns out the Philly fans were so confident of their team that no one expected the Series would go all seven games (first to four wins) – and it turns out they were right, the Phillies beat Kansas City in six, and I had to send in for a refund.
*This was before the 1987 and 1991 Twins made it to the World Series and I, as a legislator, was no longer treated as just an ordinary fan.
Tomorrow: Playing the Game