Ecstatic fans erupt in joy

Posted: October 16, 2008

THE CITY LOST its mind and it never felt so good.

After the Phillies beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 last night, clinching their first National-League pennant in 15 years, utter hysteria consumed much of this baseball-loving city.

The joyous celebration, 15 years in the making, was a much-deserved release for die-hard Phillies fans who suffered through years of numbing futility that followed the team's ill-fated run in the 1993 World Series.

Traffic snarled on certain sections on Broad Street from Snyder to Pattison avenues, in South Philly, as people spilled onto the street causing a tight one-way lane. Some people hung out of their cars waving and screaming as crowds, as thick as the perfect Mummers Day New Year's Parade, poured champagne and beer onto other revelers.

Strangers embraced and laughed together, and some even cried.

Others set off fireworks at Broad Street near Oregon Avenue. Some celebrants took the old-school approach and stood on street corners banging pots and pans, while motorists conducted a car-horn symphony.

In Center City, hundreds of people spilled out of bars, screaming and spinning shirts over their heads.

Meanwhile, thousands of fans celebrated on Cottman Avenue near Frankford. Dozens of cops from several law-enforcement units monitored the joyous chaos that unfolded on the streets of Mayfair. No serious incidents were reported, police said.

Last night's victory pushed tens of thousands right over the edge into rabid, glorious hysteria. Dreaming about a championship parade down Broad Street is no longer fool's work. It's downright realistic.

To longtime fans, that is utterly priceless.

Earlier in the night, hundreds of fans crammed inside McFadden's Restaurant and Saloon, at Citizens Bank Park, gleefully watching the Phils' widening lead.

A sea of fans wearing red and white swirled around the bar stamping out manic chants of "Let's Go, Phillies" and "Beat L.A."

Andrew Mendolia, 24, of Glassboro, N.J., was beside himself as he shouted above the roar of the crowd. "This is the most amazing experience of my life as a fan," he said.

"It's amazing how my generation has flocked to the Phillies. We feel such a connection with that team. We're going to win, there's no doubt. We're going to the World Series. It's going to be crazy around here."

Robert Brazas, 27, of New Castle, Del., tried unsuccessfully not to spill beer as he pumped his fist into the air.

"This is awesome!" he said. "After what happened in '93 with Mitch Williams and all, I knew it would be a while before we got back here - it's looking good right now."

Blood-curdling cheers erupted in the room when a disc jockey announced at the end of the 6th inning the Phillies were only nine outs away from going to the World Series.

Some fans, however, like Don Kinsley, 42, remained skeptical of the team's chance after years of let-downs.

"I didn't think they would win tonight," he said. "I thought they would win in six [games]. I really thought they would win here on Friday."

But after the Phils vanquished the Dodgers last night, all he could say was: "It's a great thing!"

As Phillies closer Brad Lidge walked to the mound at the bottom of the 9th, hundreds of fans began waving white rally towels inside Chickie's & Pete's Cafe, on Packer Avenue near Broad Street, in South Philly.

Outside, more than a dozen cops were stationed in the parking lot for crowd control.

Meanwhile, Matt Lombardo and several of his friends, began shaking and opening champagne bottles.

"This has been 15 years in the making, although I've probably only had this champagne for about 15 hours," he said. "This is a good team for people to rally around." *

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