My mother, age 94, died earlier today. She had been on the decline for some time and had been under hospice care for nearly a year and a half, so we’ve been expecting this news. As something of a tribute, I’m posting this story of what was one of the most exciting nights in my parents’ lives. It also contains another one of those “what are the odds?” moments.
Our story begins in the spring of 1988 (probably sometime in June) when I was in charge of the Information Center at DPSC, the Defense Personnel Support Center, as it was then known, located in South Philadelphia. As all of us were Phillies fans to one degree or another, I arranged for us to take an afternoon off to attend a Fan Appreciation Day game. There were probably about twelve of us altogether, including my boss, Bill Bevan.
I’d like to note right here that this was the one and only time I’ve ever attended a Phillies Fan Appreciation Day game, or ever attended a Phillies day game in the middle of the week. During this period and for several years thereafter, my standard Christmas gift to my parents was four season tickets to all the Phillies Sunday home games, and I did sometimes use one of those tickets, but I never went on a weekday.
Anyway, we got to Veterans Stadium (it not yet having been imploded) and found our seats. As there was still time before the game began, some of us went to get refreshments. Meanwhile, there was something happening on the field, some sort of contest, they were drawing a name out of a drum, although I wasn’t paying it any attention.
I wasn’t paying it any attention, that is, until I heard them announce, “The winner is Arthur J. Troutman of Lebanon, Pennsylvania.” Because that was my father!
What are the odds?
I don’t recall anything about the game, but I presume they played one. Once I got home, I called my parents to congratulate them for winning the contest. My mom had just been notified a few minutes earlier about winning and couldn’t understand how I knew about it, so I explained the weird coincidence. She told me that she had seen the coupon for the contest in one of the mailings she got from the season tickets, so she filled it out and sent it in. This was a contest where you could enter as many times as you like, but she had only entered once.
Incidentally, the contest was the Phillies Grandslam Jeepstakes Contest and the prize was a 1988 Jeep Comanche. Plus the winners, along with two other persons of their choosing, would be special guests at the July 4 Phillies home game where they would be treated to dinner, be formally presented with the prize, toss out the first pitch, and get to watch the fireworks.
Well, my parents chose my sister and me to round out their foursome, and it was an exciting evening all the way around. At the dinner there was a surprise appearance by Dave Palmer and Lance Parrish, and my father had his photo taken with them.
Then the Phillie Phanatic was on hand at the presentation of the Jeep Comanche, and as promised, my father got to throw out the first pitch.
I have to admit that I don’t recall the game itself, other than that the stadium was packed and the crowd got The Wave going a few times. I did have the VHS recorder taping the game at home, but that tape has long gone AWOL.
Finally when the game was over, we were escorted into the Phillies dugout to watch the fireworks. And this was perhaps the most exciting moment of all, because that’s where we met Tug McGraw who was gracious enough to have his picture taken with my parents. For my mom, who was a rabid Phillies fan, possibly even more so than my dad, it just didn’t get any better than this. I mean, Tug McGraw!
All in all, quite a night to remember!