Philadelphia Phillies – July 13

After a week on the road, I’d hit several ballparks and seen hours and hours of baseball, but had yet to visit an MLB park. Time for that to change!

On the morning of July 13, after an awesome visit with Jeremy Nowak and his family the night before in New Jersey, I set my sights on the City of Brotherly Love. The plan was to spend Saturday and Sunday in Philadelphia and watch the the Phillies host the Chicago White Sox for a doubleheader on Saturday and a Sunday afternoon game.

It didn’t take long to get to Philly and when I parked and opened my car door, I was hit with air that was thick and muggy enough to cause my camera lens to fog up as I took this photo:

citizens-bank-park-parking-lot-humid

Nonetheless, this was my first view of Citizens Bank Park, the eighth MLB park I’ve visited since 2010. The parking scene at CBP was fun and had the general atmosphere of an NFL game. There were thousands of people tailgating and, as a tailgate scene, it’s the best I’ve come across among the MLB parks I’ve visited. Here’s a panorama that shows the scene; in addition to Citizens Bank Park, the other big structure you can see is Lincoln Financial Field, home of the Eagles:

citizens-bank-park-parking-lot-panorama

The spot I’d parked was just a few minutes’ walk from the ballpark, which was good, as I still needed to buy my ticket for the afternoon’s doubleheader. I approached this glorious scene …

citizens-bank-park-front

… and a moment later, had this in my hand:

citizens-bank-park-ticket

One of the cool things you’ll notice about the area surrounding Citizens Bank Park is the selection of statues recognizing past Phillies greats. This idea obviously isn’t unique to Philly, but it’s done really well here. This statue of Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, for example, has a life-like quality:

citizens-bank-park-robin-roberts-statue

Although the ballpark’s gates had just opened, I wasn’t in a hurry to get inside. I’d be spending a ton of hours at Citizens Bank Park over the next two days, and my immediate priority was to survey the scene around the park. I walked past the front entrance to Lincoln Financial Field:

lincoln-financial-field-gate

The enormous Xfinity Live complex, which is right in front of Wells Fargo Center, home of the Flyers and 76ers:

xfinity-live-philadelphia

A statue of Mike Schmidt:

citizens-bank-park-mike-schmidt-statue

And free ice cream samples from Turkey Hill:

citizens-bank-park-turkey-hill-vanilla

Mmm! It might have been just after 11 a.m., but I couldn’t resist a sample. I chose the vanilla bean flavor, and it was delicious. So delicious, in fact, that after eating it, I can’t deny that I made a return to the ice cream stand to try the other flavor, salted caramel:

citizens-bank-park-turkey-hill-caramel

Loaded with energy, I continued my tour around the park and finally entered via the right field gate — after a rather intimate pat-down, of course. One of the best things on any baseball road trip is your first couple steps inside a new park. I always feel a combination of excitement mixed with a “where do I go first?” feeling. The logical choice at Citizens Bank Park, of course, is Ashburn Alley, which opens early and is a fun place reminiscent of Yawkey Way at Fenway Park. Here’s a shot looking down Ashburn Alley and, as you can see, the field is on the left and a ton of concessions line right the right side:

citizens-bank-park-ashburn-alley-view

The concession stands in this area feature a who’s who of notable Philly food — Campo’s cheesesteaks, Tony Luke’s cheesesteaks and Chickie’s & Pete’s. I recognized the latter name from Trenton’s Arm & Hammer Park, where I tried the chain’s famous crab fries. After just eating a couple containers of ice cream, however, food wasn’t exactly on my mind. Instead, I took a trip up to the Budweiser Rooftop, which sort of reminded me of a similar area at Detroit’s Comerica Park. From up here, I had this glorious view:

citizens-bank-park-budweiser-rooftop-view-panorama

Whenever I visit an MLB park, I’m always anxious to check out some of the notable scenes I’ve seen on TV. If you’ve ever seen the Phillies on TV, and I imagine you have, you’ll probably recognize the green Citizens Bank Park sign beyond the outfield. From the rooftop, I was able to get right under the sign, look up and take this picture:

citizens-bank-park-sign-close-up

The view from the Budweiser Rooftop is awesome, no matter where you look. Turn your back to the field and you’ll have a picture-perfect view of Philly’s skyline:

citizens-bank-park-philly-skyline-lower-deck

I quickly identified the Budweiser Rooftop as a place I wanted to visit during the game but, for now, I still had lots of exploring to do. After checking out this statue of longtime Phillies broadcaster Harry Kalas …

citizens-bank-park-harry-kalas-statue

… I started my walk through the concourse and stopped at the Phillies Authentics store, which had an awesome selection of game-used stuff:

citizens-bank-park-phillies-authentics

Next up, I decided to return to Ashburn Alley to check out Memory Lane, which presents the team’s history year by year. You can actually see it in the panorama from the rooftop deck, but here’s a closer look at some of the displays:

citizens-bank-park-memory-lane

Part of the area, however, is blocked off at select times. Why? Because the visiting team’s bullpen is directly below the security guard in the blue shirt, and I’m guessing bullpen staffs over the years haven’t had positive encounters with the Phillies faithful:

citizens-bank-park-bullpen-access-cut-off

After taking a bit of trip down, well, memory lane, I continued the retro feel by checking out the Mitchell & Ness Alley Store, which sits at the end of Ashburn Alley. This isn’t the official team shop; rather, it sells a wide range of M&N gear and it was hard not to go on a spending spree. Check out the goods:

citizens-bank-park-mitchell&ness-team-shop

After a full loop around the lower-level concourse, I climbed up to the park’s upper level to check out the scene. From here, I had an awesome view of Lincoln Financial Field:

lincoln-financial-field-from-cbp

A somewhat dizzying look down toward field level:

citizens-bank-park-seating-levels

And, once the game began, a nice view of the video board:

citizens-bank-park-video-board

I continued to wander around the upper deck, taking in the scenes while keeping en eye on the game. When I made it over to the left field corner, I had a great view of Harry the K’s bar, the Budweiser Rooftop and Ashburn Alley:

citizens-bank-park-upper-deck-view

I also had a good view of the city’s downtown:

citizens-bank-park-philly-skyline

And I couldn’t resist taking a photo of this giant burnout on the concourse itself, which made me suspect a staff member had been driving his cart somewhat aggressively after hours:

citizens-bank-park-concourse-burnout

Next, I went back down to the main level to check out the team shop — I always enjoy browsing team shops, but the frigid air conditioning inside definitely beckoned on this hot, humid day. The multi-level shop was great, as expected. IT had a “deal of the day” on 2012 bobbleheads, and I bought a Roy Halladay one. The sale dropped the price to just $5, and while I was browsing the available players, a 40-something guy next to me loaded up his arms. When his wife gave him a quizzical look, he said, “These are all $5. They’re a great deal. I’m getting all of them.”

And her response: “For yourself? … FOR YOURSELF?!?!?!”

As great as the store was, know what wasn’t awesome? When you exited, you walked right into the death cloud of Citizens Bank Park’s smoking area. Awful. Smoking facilities should always be well outside the park’s gates. One thing that amused me, though, as I escaped the death cloud, was the first garbage can outside the team shop’s exit — looks like it’s turned into a place to stick the sticker off your Phillies hat:

citizens-bank-park-garbage-can-stickers

Time for some baseball watching! My standing room ticket meant I couldn’t get down into the field-level seats to take any action shots, so I put my zoom lens to the test and, from the concourse, got Darin Ruf fouling off a pitch:

citizens-bank-park-darin-ruf

And Carlos Ruiz, whose signature hot dog I’d eaten a couple days earlier in Reading:

citizens-bank-park-carlos-ruiz

Partway through the game, I could see action in the Chicago bullpen and went over for a closer look. Of course, I couldn’t get into the closed-off area I showed earlier, but I could stand in Ashburn Alley and get a pretty good view of Donnie Veal warming up:

donnie-veal-chicago-white-sox-bullpen

And Addison Reed chilling on the steps by himself:

addison-reed-chicago-white-sox-bullpen

The game was breezing right along; in the eighth inning, Antonio Bastardo (who’s since been suspended in the Biogenesis case) came in to pitch and I went back up to the Budweiser Rooftop for this perfect view:

citizens-bank-park-cf-view

Late in the game, the sky opened much in the same way it had the night before at Yogi Berra Stadium. Before long, this was the view from the concourse, where I’d run to take shelter:

citizens-bank-park-rain-delay-tarp

I wasn’t the only person with this idea — take a look at just how congested things were during the 41-minute rain delay:

citizens-bank-park-crowded-concourse

Once the sky cleared up again, the game resumed but went to extra innings. (Just what players forced to play a doubleheader hope for, right?) Chicago won 5-4 in the 11th. The nightcap also went into extra innings before the Phillies won 2-1 in the 13th to bring the day’s total to 24 innings. In those two games, Domonic Brown went a combined 0-for-9. Ouch.

Obviously, it was a long, exciting day, but by the end, I was exhausted. I’m tentative to even calculate the house I spent at Citizens Bank Park! I was excited to drive to my hotel and crash. For my two days in Philly, I chose to stay at the Hyatt Place Philadelphia/King of Prussia, and I was glad I did. I stayed at a Hyatt Place for the first time back in May when I visited Cleveland’s Progressive Field, and really loved the hotel. This one was awesome, too. It’s about 20 or so minutes from the Citizens Bank Park and, while I could’ve stayed closer, it was nice to be in the suburbs. The drive gave me a chance to see some of the city’s sights and the hotel itself is close proximity to a ton of stores, restaurants and so on.

When I checked in, the staff were immensely friendly and welcoming — so much so that when I got to my room, this freshly baked cupcake and a welcome note was waiting for me:

hyatt-place-philadelphia-king-of-prussia-cupcake

As for the room, it was giant. After a week of changing hotels daily, it was nice to find a place where I could stay for a couple nights and relax a bit — and have the space to spread out. Here’s the view from the door, which shows the size of just part of the room:

hyatt-place-philadelphia-king-of-prussia-room

And here’s the king-sized bed and the TV that swivels so you can see it from the bed, living room area or desk:

hyatt-place-philadelphia-king-of-prussia-bedroom

Since I was spending two nights at the hotel, I’ll have more details about it (and more photos) in my next blog post. I crashed soon after checking in; after all, I had to get back to Citizens Bank Park in just a few hours!

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