09/27/2003 2:26 PM ET
Phils notes: Veterans of closings
By Mike Gerraria / Special to MLB.com
Sign up for Postgame Alerts for the Postseason
PHILADELPHIA -- The Phillies are in the midst of their final games at Veterans Stadium, but for some team members, this isn't their first ballpark closing.
Relief pitcher Mike Williams was a member of the 1999 Pirates team that shut down Pittsburgh's Three Rivers Stadium.
How does Williams feel about being part of another closing?
"It means I'm getting old," the 35-year-old hurler said.
But the 12-year Major League veteran also enjoys the opportunity this final weekend at The Vet presents.
"It's good to see some old friends, especially guys from the '93 team," Williams said.
Then a part-time starter, Williams pitched for the Phillies squad that reached the World Series a decade ago.
Kelly Stinnett was with the Reds last season when they closed out Cinergy Field in Cincinnati, and the Phillies had a major role in the finale, as well. Philadelphia played the final series at the ballpark, with Jason Michaels collecting the last hit in Cinergy Field history.
Jose Mesa was in his third year in the big leagues in 1991, when the Orioles played their last game at Memorial Stadium.
But the ballpark in Baltimore was just the beginning of the end for Mesa.
Mesa and Jim Thome witnessed the final days of Cleveland Stadium as members of the 1993 Indians squad.
Another team brought another closing of a ballpark for the closer.
Mesa and the 1999 Mariners moved from the Kingdome into Safeco Field in mid-season.
Although several Phillies players have some history in closing out ballparks, one of them is looking forward to Citizens Bank Park next year.
"It's like getting a new car," Williams said of playing in a new park.
Bowa remembers: Phillies alumni came to Veterans Stadium in droves Saturday to help celebrate the Final Innings weekend, and manager Larry Bowa couldn't help but be a little nostalgic.
One of Bowa's former managers popped his head into the current manager's office on Saturday to remind him of one of the now-lighter moments of his 12-year Phils career.
After sharing a chuckle with Danny Ozark, Phils manager from 1973-79, Bowa relayed the story.
The skipper explained that the Phillies were playing the Astros in the Astrodome. Bowa described the walk from the clubhouse to the field as a long tunnel with a light hanging from the ceiling approximately every 25 feet or so.
Bowa said he had a tough day at the plate, recalling three strikeouts.
After his final at-bat, he stormed up the tunnel, taking a bat to each light.
While the fiery infielder got out his frustrations, his teammates endured a tough trip back to the locker room.
"It was complete darkness," Bowa said Saturday.
"They had to hold each other's waist, like they were dancing, to get back through the tunnel."
Interleague in '04: The Phillies are scheduled to travel to Chicago, Minnesota and Boston and play host to the Royals, Tigers and Orioles in their Interleague games next season. Philadelphia went 8-7 in 2003 Interleague Play.
Skipper speaks: "We're going to try to win this game. We got 55,000 people coming." -- Bowa explaining the decision to start most of his regulars on Saturday.
Mike Gennaria is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.