Prime Pregaming for Phillies Phans

With turnstiles clicking and people chatting, your average Phillies fan walks through the gates of Heaven. You’re greeted by the scent of hot dogs, popcorn, and beer. As you walk out from under the shade, your eyes are met by the sun and the most luscious grass one has ever seen. Citizens Bank Park is such a beautiful stadium with an excellent atmosphere and filled with family friendly activities and a plethora of concessions and restaurants.

Prior to crossing that threshold, thousands of fans gather in the parking lots to drink beer, grill burgers, and play cornhole, the popular bean bag game in which Phillies Nation’s own Robert Cowie and Pat Galen claim to be the champs at. 

There is so much to do for a Phillies fan before the game whether it’s inside the stadium or out. So I asked a bunch of fans, bloggers, and the two-man TTB staff what they do before the game.

John Russo of Team to Beat
My brother and I attend most of my games together. We like to get to the park about an hour prior to eat at Harry the K’s, Tony Lukes, or Bull’s BBQ. While chowing down on either a Schmidter, a cheese steak from Tony Lukes, or the pulled pork from Bulls, we catch the end of the visiting team’s batting practice.

I am also one of the last of my kind: the scorecard filler. I have a book that I bring with me and have kept score of almost every game I attended since keeping book at the Vet. I’m a baseball nerd who still hasn’t wrapped his head around the complicated stats yet I love every second of the art of stat keeping. Once game time starts, I don’t leave the seat, often treating my brother to whatever he wants if he gets the food.

To me, there is nothing quite like hearing the crack of the bat during BP or seeing the kids running around with their dad’s wanting a Build-A-Phanatic. Baseball is the most American sport in the world. It’s wholesome, beautiful, and it brings the family together. When I’m a father, my kids will be Phillies fans. We will all share the same traditions I hold now, partaking in the greatest sport ever.

Dan MacNeal of Liberty Bell Sports
My “rituals” depend on how early I get down there. If I’m tailgating, you know I won’t be in CBP lot, but if I park in that lot, I like to look at the Connie Mack statue as I go toward the ballpark.

I like to get down early enough for batting practice, maybe catch a home run (that I still haven’t done in 20 years of going to games). If I’m with my cousin, we usually will challenge each other at the pitch speed game, and he still hasn’t beaten me in five years of the new stadium. I like to walk around the concourse and look at everything even though I’ve been to CBP plenty of times. Most times before the game I’ll get nachos and a drink. Usually I’ll head up to my seat in time for the starting lineups.

I don’t like to leave my seat once the game starts but if I do, I’ll go when the opposition is batting. I never leave early, even if the Phils are down by 10 (luckily that’s never happened for me). After the game, I’ll usually walk around the stadium, especially if it’s one of those warm summer nights, because there really is no rush to jump in that parking lot traffic.

Jay Ballz of Phoul Ballz
My favorite place to pick up food before a game is John’s Roast Pork on Snyder. Often regarded as the best cheese steak in Philadelphia, John’s sandwiches are tremendous and worth the wait you may often run into on game day. A cheese steak & lager tag team is the official pregame meal of I typically park in the Jetro lot and tail gate, but the location could change, as some lots have raised their prices this year.

Other game day routines include spending time with some great phans. On Sundays, I know plenty of people (friends, seat neighbors, a cousin) at the games that are necessary to spend time with. I’ve got close family and in-laws that have other Phillies ticket plans also, so I feel like any given game I attend, there’s someone I know to meet up with.

As a fan of the history of the game, I like to check in at the Wall of Fame every so often as well. I am sure the displays don’t change much, if at all, but there’s always something worth looking at on that memory lane wall.

Robert Cowie of Phillies Nation
A tradition that started with my younger brother, and continues to this day amongst my friends, is that we walk around the main concourse to get the feel of the crowd. My brother and I would do this at The Vet as kids just to exert some freedom and independence from our parents. We’d have no particular destination or agenda. It’s solely to pick up on the fan vibes through the stadium and gauge how amped the crowd will be. As you can imagine, Sunday afternoons are a bit subdued as compared to meaningful game down the stretch of the season. But, it also turned into a time where we could talk about general things in a comfortable setting. All in all, a great time to be had.

Sam Alicea
I always get there early get my crab fries and sausage, onion and pepper sandwich and two bottles of water……I always pass by Ashburn Alley. Always look at the photos at the Harry the K’s spot. Yes I know they are the same each time, but it’s always nice to check out. Then I head to my seat. Last season and 2008 when I went to the games and did this ritual the Phillies were 16-1. I’m not changing this season neither.

Kevin McGuire of Macho Row
It may be somewhat surprising that I do not feel I have an exciting ritual or any order of events that I cherish. This is probably because I do not have season tickets, so every game I attend is a bit different. Different entrances, which means different food stands near by and more.

I tend to enjoy the atmosphere in the stadium sitting in my seat eating a hot dog with mustard (always mustard) or chicken tenders with fries (ketchup and BBQ sauce of course). That is my pre-game food and I always will down it with a bottle of water that I take in myself or with a Coca-Cola, which is probably because that’s how I grew up watching games at the Vet with my dad and grand parents.

I’ll sit happily in my seat while watching whatever Phillies videos are being shown on Phanavision. I’m also likely to be taking photos on my camera to kill some time. One thing I always do is take a picture of the outfield wall, as I like comparing them with previous photos and watch the progress of the ivy as it grows all over the wall.

Once a year I always go to a game with a group of alums from my fraternity in college, and a pre-game meeting at the Steve Carlton statue is where we hash out post-game plans, including a trip to a diner or McFadden’s, or Chickie’s & Pete’s etc.

Sadly I do not have a routine like so many fans do, but that is what is great about the game. We can all enjoy it on the same level, no matter what we do before or after.

My friends and I always park at K8 in the Linc parking lot. There is usually at least five of us. My friend Jack has a keg that was cut in half and turned into a grill. He also makes his own beer for the games. Our usual menu is burgers, hot dogs, sausage plus what ever snack items we decide to bring. We play cornhole and ladder golf. Sometimes I will make a CD or iPod playlist with all the players at-bat music.

For the last two seasons whenever Brett Myers would pitch someone would bring a bucket of KFC chicken and no matter what we had to leave one piece of chicken in the bucket that we were not allowed to eat. I have no idea why we did it. I think Brett was winning after we brought it the one time so we just kept on doing it. Even going out of our way sometimes to get the chicken and also ripping the last piece of chicken away from someone that was hungry so they didn’t jinx Brett. Pretty desperate but I would call it typical Philly Phan behavior. I have fifth row outfield seats so I am a heckler. I will research players to see if I can find any dirt on them to bring up and embarrass them with.

For Opening Day this year we will be in our same location. I think our menu is burgers, hot dogs, possibly sausage, ribs, chicken marsala and brownies. Jack has made a Honey Brown Ale. We really don’t visit anywhere now but once the Harry statue is donated we will all make sure we touch the Harry statue before the game.

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