Nightlife Having A Ball

Posted: August 26, 1987

On a patch of green, a bunch of guys in tight white pants and unflattering plastic hats are running around trying to catch a small white ball sent flying into the air by a long stick.

This is baseball, America's favorite pastime and, for Joey Galagher, 8, it's the best excuse around to giggle with pals as they terrorize folks balancing nachos and beer and hot dogs and popcorn on teeny cardboard trays.

"Sorry," he called out with a toothy grin, scampering down the aisle after causing one balancing act to topple.

Joey was at Veterans Stadium Monday night, not watching the Phillies get whammied by the San Francisco Giants. The two teams meet again tonight at 7:35 p.m. The Phillies then go on the road for two weeks.

"I wanna play baseball," said Holly Gryning, 9, leaning against the rails with her friend Bethany O'Neal, also 9, a fellow member of the Winchester Witches, a Cape May softball team. "I like hitting and catching and being popular."

There are other things to do beside watch a ballgame up in the sky on a hard plastic seat, though some, like Holly, can imagine no finer life. On the 600 level is a drop-dead view of the city, postcard-perfect between the columns marked 577-579 and 572-575. There, the columns frame the tall buildings beyond the rooftops of South Philly.

Over by the food court, for the romantically inclined, is the western horizon and a clear view of the sunset. And then there is the food court itself, for some the best reason to mess with the parking and hard plastic seats. Where else in Philly is there the privilege of standing in one line for Kosher hot dogs ($2.50), one line for nachos ($3), one line for cheeseburgers ($3), and so on? Luckily, "premium beer" (Bud) is sold at every counter, a bargain at $3.

Other joys: guys hawking "Be-EAR"; sitting outdoors without worrying about grass stains; watching the Phanatic shine the bald head of the Giants' third-base coach; buying pennants, T-shirts and other souvenirs; cheering and cursing; wearing a baseball glove while waiting for foul balls; getting out of the house.

"Look at all the things you can see here you can't see in your living room," said Bill Graham, 27, watching the game with seven buddies from Westmont, N.J.

Like . . . "Women," he and Larry Mallgrave, 28, said in unison.

"On TV, you can't get the whole atmosphere," said Bob Deen, 27, summing it all up. "You just have to come in person."

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