Phillies Fans Willing to Travel

We're not only filling our own park, we're breaking records in others

Growing up, my friends and I would con one of our dads into taking a whole minivan of us down to the Vet to watch the Phils. The dads would sit up in the 700 level, and the Vet was so empty they could watch as our gaggle of boys in Scott Rolen shirts (I know—it’s painful for me, too) roamed the walkways just beyond the outfield wall eating Phillies Franks and heckling David Justice. So, sights like last night’s Cubs game still amaze me. Now, we’re not just selling out CBP—we’re filling parks in other cities.

Last night, Phils fans made their way in droves to Wrigley’s infamous outfield bleachers. The camera panned over the stands and—while the ratio certainly wasn’t equal—the Phillies definitely had a fan presence at the ballpark. It’ll likely be the same for the rest of the series. It won’t stop there and it didn’t begin there, either.

The Phillies have always had a big showing at Nationals Park in D.C. That’s partly attributed to the fact that the Nats suck and partly attributed to the close proximity of Washington. But, the message is still clear—Phils fans love their team and are willing to travel to see them.

Over Memorial Day weekend, the Phils played a series in D.C. that spurred as much conversation about Phils fans in the Metro-area as it did about Werth playing his former team. A Nats home run was even tossed back onto the field in their own park. Then, a few weeks ago the Phils traveled to the other half of Pennsylvania to take on the (now in first place—yes, really) Pittsburgh Pirates. The Buccos saw their park turn to red for the weekend. Additionally, their attendance figures were through the roof. The Saturday night game was the largest crowd for a Pirates game PNC Park has ever seen and the series touts the fourth-highest attendance of any three-game series in the park’s brief history. If the season ended today, the Phils would play the Pirates in the first round of the playoffs. Most Phils fans would probably have a better shot at landing tickets in the Burgh than in South Philly.

When I was in high school the first thing I’d do when I woke up during the summer was check the forecast because—if it was nice—chances were that I was going to shuffle my work schedule around so that I could drive down to Pattison Avenue and buy tickets for that night’s Phils game. I didn’t need a season-ticket plan or a parking pass—just $15 for a decent seat beyond the left field wall. Now, CBP is sold out every night, rain, shine, sleet or locusts. And sure, that can be frustrating when you’re trying to get your hands on tickets for a Mets game on a Friday. But, what it really means is that things are good. When the Phils were just another team on the fringe of relevance anyone could get tickets at Citizens Bank Park and no one was hopping on the Turnpike to catch a game way across Pennsylvania.

The point is that not only are the Phillies relevant in Philadelphia—now they matter everywhere. Organizations look forward to having the Phils come to town because it means big attendance numbers. And Phils fans seem to like having a reason to do some domestic traveling.

They say there’s no place like home but—with the Phils fans showing up at parks all over the Northeast, I doubt Charlie and company will be clicking their red spikes together anytime soon.