10/30/08 3:39 AM EST
Thrilla in Phila: Game 5 unforgettable
Fans from Philly to Tampa Bay will always savor 104th Classic
By Mark Newman / MLB.com
It was so different, from the participants to the Oct. 27-29 Game 5 clincher.
It was so loud, from the cowbells to the thunderous roar of towel-waving fans.
It was so dramatic, with two of the five games decided in the ninth inning.
It was "We Are the Champions" sung together by a chorus of thousands.
It was Brad Lidge dropping to his knees and bending over backwards -- perfection.
It was everyone on their feet from the first pitch by Rays reliever Grant Balfour in the bottom of the sixth through the fireworks and celebration scene.
It was Pat Burrell delivering that big hit, setting up the winning run.
It was the fans under 30 who never knew what it was like to experience a major sports championship in the City of Brotherly Love -- until now.
It was the Weekend of Love once the series headed north. People will remember when the Flyers, Penn State and the Phillies all won on Saturday. They will remember when the Eagles won on Sunday, followed by a Phillies victory and The Who in concert.
It was the many fans who came to Citizens Bank Park with their children and grandchildren, because they wanted them to remember it the way they remembered being there as children and grandchildren in 1980.
It was Ryan Howard turning into Ryan Howard just when he was needed most, finishing with three long balls, including the key pair in Game 4.
It was the jam-packed concourses and club-level passages that were filled with confused fans as the rain poured on Monday night, then learning that they would come back with the same ticket stubs whenever Mother Nature finally allowed.
It was the empty concourses and concessions and restrooms during three innings of Wednesday night, as every person on the premises got into every pitch and every situation with rapt attention and bated breath.
It was the anticipation, that interminable wait for 46 hours. It was worth it after waiting 28 years since Tug McGraw struck out Willie Wilson. It was sleepless nights, upset stomachs, constant checking of the weather, coming back to the ballpark.
It was manager Charlie Manuel keeping the Phillies mentally prepared, always as if it was just another day in May or August. It was their skipper telling the lingering fans long after the final out: "Who's the world champions?" It was seemingly each of those fans pointing at themselves, and their chests bursting with pride.
It was the Phillies winning one for the memory of Manuel's mother.
It was Harry Kalas on the radio, calling his first World Series championship for his devout listeners who could not be there or who were there and listened anyway. He wasn't able to call the one in 1980. This was the missing broadcast.
It was a world of attention, with many fans following the game live over their computers abroad through the MLB.TV International subscription. It was so different than 1980 in that way, with no boundaries for a Phightin' Phillies Phollower.
It was a Rays team that wrote its own Disney script, following a dismal decade with a storybook season that went from worst to World Series. They were a worthy opponent, losing by a single run in three of the Phillies' victories.
It was those chants of "Eva! Eva!" It's not something Evan Longoria will love to remember, but he will always remember that he had their attention. It is the story of a memorable rookie season, and it is another part of the Phillies fan legend.
It was fans high-fiving other Phillies fans everywhere around Citizens Bank Park when it was all over, like brothers and sisters.
It was the dogpile on the pitcher's mound, that amazing scene that will play over and over in the minds of Phillies fans forever. "I never felt better to be hit by a big guy like that in my life," Lidge said after being mauled by Howard in the dogpile.
It was 45-year-old Jamie Moyer, finally. His first postseason, his first World Series title. "This is a dream come true," he said. "Being at the parade in '80, and now we're going to be in a parade sometime later this week. It's all been worth it."
It was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter announcing that there will be a parade downtown starting at noon ET on Friday. "To our consummate Philadelphia fans, we're so proud that we are the Philadelphia Phillies, and our first name is Philadelphia. We represent our city."
It was the 104th installment of the greatest sporting event in the world, and it was one that never will be forgotten. It ended in Philadelphia, and it ended with the stuff of dreams for Phillies fans who have waited a long, long time.
Mark Newman is enterprise editor of MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.