279 Bianca Mandel

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Growing up as the daughter of a sportswriter, I was immersed in the world of sports from an early age. Every night I fell asleep to the sound of manual typewriter keys tapping out stories. As soon as I was old enough to sit still, my father started taking me to baseball games at Parker Field, home to the Richmond Virginians, AAA farm team of the New York Yankees. I quickly grew to love the sights, sounds and smells of baseball and begged Dad to “take me out to the ballgame” as often as possible.

Sadly, the Virginians left Richmond for Toledo in 1964, and shortly thereafter I left Richmond for college. Through the many years since, I have lived in a variety of cities, but none were home to even a AAA team. The delights of a baseball game and the atmosphere of a ballpark become distant memories.

Early in 2004 my husband’s change of careers brought us to Philadelphia. For his birthday that first summer, I surprised him, a lifelong Mets fan, with tickets to a Phillies-Mets game at the brand new Citizens Bank Park. As soon as I entered the beautiful ballpark, I realized how much I missed all of those sights, sounds and smells of my favorite childhood sport. That night the Phillies won 8-1, and I was stung by the Phillies bug!

Fortunately, my husband had to admit that he was so impressed by the overall experience that he would consider a partial season package the following year. After all, that would give him the chance to see the Mets play occasionally, too. Indeed, a seventeen-game-package was my birthday gift that very year and was I delighted! Gradually, and thanks particularly to those spectacular Fightin’ Phils of 2008, my husband renounced the Mets for the Phillies. Though the ups and downs of recent seasons, we have remained ever faithful and ever supportive. LET’S GO PHILLIES!!!