September 28, 2003.
It was the final game of the regular season. It would be the 10th consecutive season the Phillies would not have a Red October. The Braves beat the Phillies 5-2. None of that mattered.
For me and 58,000-plus other fans in attendance, it was one final time walking up those winding ramps at Veterans Stadium sporting our Phillies gear. It would be the last time at the Vet I would hear a vendor yell "Hey! Hot dog here!"
So much nostalgia for me on that day. Memories of my parents taking me to Sunday home games and sitting in the 500 level on a hot steamy summer day. We got wiser as years went on and sat in the shade down in the 300 level.
As I got older, I remember taking the free ticket coupons from the Phillies' franks packages to the ticket window so I could sit in the 700 level for a weeknight game against the Expos.
It was so surreal on that cloudy fall Sunday in 2003 as ceremony after ceremony went on throughout the game. From then-manager Larry Bowa, along with 1980 World Champion manager Dallas Green, bringing out the lineup card, to seeing Harry Kalas change the Vet countdown on the outfield wall from one to zero, and then the walk down memory lane seeing the likes of Schmidt, Carlton and McGraw make one last trek on that infamous Vet turf.
However, there is a moment that stands out to me that had nothing to do with the festivities on the field. It was late in the game. Most fans were just hanging around waiting for the postgame ceremony. Then all of the sudden, a roar erupts inside Veterans Stadium. You see, the Phillies game was played on an Eagles Sunday and a large percentage of fans, me included, were locked in on their walkmans listening to Eagles radio broadcasting legend Merrill Reese call the action. I remember vividly Merrill in typical Merrill fashion screaming, "20, 10, 5, touchdown" as Brian Westbrook ripped off a 62-yard touchdown with just over 2 minutes left in the 4th quarter to help seal a 23-13 victory in Buffalo. Fans are hugging and high fiving each other.
The roar was so loud the play on the field briefly paused as the players on the field looked up to see what was causing the commotion. Chants of E-A-G-L-E-S rang throughout the bowl.
It isn't at all the greatest game in Philadelphia sports. It was just one of those moments that's always stuck with me. The Phillies and Eagles called the Vet home. And on this final day of baseball, they made one more Vet memory for me.