Philadelphia Fans Short On Memory But Long On Faith

Posted: October 22, 1993

All was forgiven last night at the Vet.

Even a 15-14, 4-hour, 14-minute, wrenching, awful heartbreaker of a game couldn't come between the Phillies and their fans.

So what if Wednesday's game had been a nightmare? Last night, there was still hope at the Vet. Last night, it was back to baseball.

And Phillies fans - recovered from Midnight with Mitch - emptied their hearts and lungs for the home team.

Cowbells clanged. Grandmas slapped their mittens in muffled joy. And "Mr. P" - Bob Wilson, 20 - was streaking in the upper deck, his body painted red, a P shaved into his hair, and naked down to his Phillies boxer shorts. This on a night when the temperatures dipped into the 50s.

Mr. P, like many in the crowd, was as hoarse as a cheerleader after a homecoming game.

Signs rimmed the Vet: "I Still Believe," "No Phear," and "Thanks for the Phantastic Season."

Crowds have moods. Last night's was optimistic, hopeful but low-key.

Until the seventh inning that is. That's when the fans at the Vet were on their feet, cheering their Phils - and especially pitcher Curt Schilling, the Superman of the postseason - to a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays in Game 5 of the World Series.

It's hard to get up after being so down. Some of the fans at last night's game also had endured Wednesday's loss. And they were still recovering.

"I stayed up all night, having an argument with myself," said Dominic Pino, 35, of Glen Mills, Delaware County. "How could they lose that game?"

Marge Annon, in her 54th season with the Phils as a nurse's aide, tossed and turned. "I didn't sleep last night till 5:30," she said. "I was so upset."

Vince McGrath, 33, from South Philadelphia, came to the Vet last night with his Phillies hat, jersey and buttons, and a sign that read, "Never Say Never."

Wasn't he here Wednesday night?

"Oh, yeah," he nodded. "I was in shock. I put my head down. But I was in Philly today, wearing my Phillies jersey, and a man said to me, 'I could shoot a bullet through your head.' But I figure these guys have done it all year. I'm not giving up on them tonight."

The tensest moments came when Schilling was headed into the late innings in a close game. Which raised the prospect of the return of reliever Mitch Williams.

It's an issue that divides families. Even identical twins, Natalie and Jill Khawam, 18, from Huntingdon Valley, Montgomery County, each dressed in identical blue-and-white striped pants and blue blazers, couldn't agree.

"Yeah, absolutely," said Natalie.

"No," screamed Jill. "No way."

Mitch became moot. Schilling was strong into the ninth inning and had the fans on their feet.

From his perch high above third base in 600-level seats, Jonathan Lipner, 40, of Lafayette Hills, Montgomery County, saw it unfold.

"There's one," screamed Lipner, as Joe Carter popped up for the first out.

"There's two," Lipner screamed after John Olerud grounded out.

When Paul Molitor flied out to Lenny Dykstra in center for the final out, the stadium erupted with screams, bearhugs, high fives and wild applause.

It was on to Toronto for Game 6 tomorrow and, maybe, Game 7 on Sunday.

"See you Monday at the parade," Lipner said.

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