© 2008 MLB Advanced Media, L.P. All rights reserved.
PHILADELPHIA -- Under a champagne- and beer-soaked cap that proclaimed the Phillies National League champions, Jamie Moyer's face was equally moist.
A closer look revealed the liquid to be self-generated. A grown man of 45 years had cried for almost an hour, and had red, watery eyes to prove it. But after what he'd just seen from the dugout, and the World Series realization that went with it, who can blame him?
In his 22nd Major League season, Moyer was about to embark on the ultimate journey. The ticket was punched when Carlos Ruiz squeezed Nomar Garciaparra's foul pop, clinching the team's 99th win and earning the NL pennant.
"I don't know if I understand what's really taken place here," Moyer said. "I know we're going to the World Series, but it hasn't sunk in."
Moyer understands that the World Series had previously eluded him, even as part of a 116-win team in Seattle. That team lost to the Yankees in the American League Championship Series.
An emotional man with an intense respect and appreciation for the sport, Moyer never takes anything for granted, but allowed himself to take in what was happening around him. In the later stages of the game, he wondered if it was really happening.
"You sit there in the eighth and ninth inning and you have to pinch yourself," he said. "In the ninth, I'm like, 'Get the leadoff guy.' Then [James] Loney got on, and it's, 'Just get the second guy.' Then Nomar came up and he made [the final] out. I was an intense feeling."
Realizing a boyhood dream, Moyer glanced at the celebratory cigar gently resting in his left hand. Other teammates had begun puffing. Moyer's remained in the wrapper.
"I'm going to smoke it, if I can find somebody with a lighter or a pack of matches," he said. "There's time."
He's put in plenty of time, from being a sixth-round Draft choice of the Cubs in 1984 to beating his idol, Steve Carlton, in his 1986 Major League debut. He's been with eight organizations, and once turned down a coaching job to continue playing.
His teammates, many of whom are homegrown -- Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Brett Myers and Ryan Madson -- had spent their careers hearing about John Kruk, Lenny Dykstra and Curt Schilling from 1993 and Mike Schmidt, Larry Bowa and Carlton in 1980.
Moyer can offer experience there, too. He didn't just hear about 1980. He lived it as a Souderton High School student, and went along for that joyous ride. The story of Pennsylvania's most famous truant has often been told.
"People were hanging from the streetlights and trees, and there was toilet paper all over," he said. "Everybody was your friend. A half a million people were all friends."
Tears formed freely amid the full-circle realization that the kid who cut class to watch the 1980 World Series parade will see today's generation of high-school students do the same. And Moyer would be one of the players waving at them.
"We're one series away from being on the floats in that parade down Broad Street," he said. "Amazing."