The 1993 season will always hold a special place in the hearts of Phillies fans. The Dude, Dutch, Krukker, and the Wild Thing took us on a magical ride all summer. They swept the Astros in Houston the opening series and never looked back, racing to the finish line while never relinquishing at least a share of 1st place all season in the old National League East (this was the last year of the old 2-division set-up in each league). So many games and moments stand out from that season. I was lucky to be at one of those games, one that turned out to make some Veterans Stadium history on July 7, 1993, when the Phillies hosted the Dodgers.
That summer I was working in the Fieldhouse at St. Joe's, doing whatever they needed me to do around the offices. The legendary Don DiJulia, our Athletic Director for over 3 decades who retired in 2018, asked me if I could use his tickets to the Phillies game that night. Always down for a trip to the Vet, I said yes. I called my friend Joe (future Catholic League coach of the year) and within an hour we were in South Philly. Our lives were so much simpler then.
Because Mr. D's son Chris (a local legend among basketball folks in his own right) has special needs, one of the tickets was for the handicapped section down the LF line, the last section in the 200 level next to the visitor's bullpen. We met up with my friend and Joe's cousin Mountain (his real name, and now the head coach for LaSalle women's basketball), and settled in for some baseball. We had no idea we'd be there for over 6 hours.
The game went like a lot of games that year. Kruk and Dykstra both hit HRs off of Dodgers starter Ramon Martinez. In the bullpen, we could see Martinez's skinny (I mean SKINNY) little brother Pedro warming up. Looked like he threw pretty hard. I wish I could tell you at the time I knew he would fill out (slightly) and become the Hall of Famer we knew and loved. But back then, he was just Ramon's little brother. The Phillies took a two-run lead into the 9th, and in came Mitch Williams. When Mitch entered, you never knew what would happen. But that year, he ended up with 43 saves. You knew it wouldn't be 1-2-3, but you had a little more confidence in '93. Unfortunately, this was not a night he recorded one of those saves. The Dodgers scored 2 runs, and might have scored more, if not for a nice play in the hole by SS Kevin Stocker, who was making his major league debut. Quite a game to break into the big leagues, kid.
We then watched 10 innings of scoreless baseball. Future All-Star closer Mike Williams ended up pitching the last 6 for the Phillies. Phanavision must've been running out of inventory because in between every inning they showed a promo for the Notre Dame-Navy football game that would be played at the Vet that fall. My friend Joe is a huge ND fan, and by the 19th inning, he noticed the Dodgers bullpen catcher saluting Phanvision when they showed the promo. Since we were right next to the bullpen, he started talking to the guy as he entered the pen below us. Turns out, he had played baseball for the Irish, so him and Joe talked some Notre Dame football.
The Dodgers scored a run in the top of the 20th. But the only thing I remember about that inning is that Mike Williams picked Cory Snyder off at 3RD BASE! Just a straight-up pick-off move, as if a lefty would pick someone off at 1st base. I don't think I've ever seen someone do that, at any level, before or since. It also reminds me that the Dodgers had some stars from the 80's on this team. Snyder was on the cover of Sports Illustrated baseball preview one year (with a teammate. Think his name was Joe Carter. Not sure whatever happened to him). Tim Wallach played 3rd and made a handful of All-Star teams with the Expos before landing in LA. And they had Eric Davis playing in LF. To anyone who grew up a baseball fan in the 80's, he was one of the coolest and most productive players we got to watch when he was in Cincinnati. After some injuries and playing on so much artificial turf, he was no longer Eric the Red, but still smooth as could be.
In the bottom of the 20th, the Phils put a couple men on base. With 2 outs, Lenny Dykstra stepped to the plate. That year, you wouldn't want any other Phil at the plate with the game on the line. For some reason, the Dodgers pitched to him with a base open. He laced a liner to LF, and I can still see Davis coming or way, tracking it down. Not many left-fielders would've had a chance at it, but this was Eric Davis. But the ball just missed his outstretched glove, landed on the warning track, and then hopped over the wall and into the Dodgers bullpen. Phils win. It tied the longest game, by innings, in the history of the Vet. And the ND guy, being the only guy left in the bullpen, picked the ball up and flipped it up to Joe (he still has it).
Pretty amazing finish to a pretty amazing game in a pretty amazing season.
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