Broad Street Billy: He was Michael-on-the-spot at the ballpark

Lifesaver Michael J. Melograna enjoys a relaxing moment before last night's NLCS game.
Lifesaver Michael J. Melograna enjoys a relaxing moment before last night's NLCS game.
Posted: October 20, 2009

DURING THE middle innings of the Phillies' National League Division Series home opener against the Colorado Rockies, exposure to the cold, 40-mile-per-hour winds caused a baby on the 200 level of Citizens Bank Park to stop breathing.

BALLPARK HERO: Michael J. Melograna - who supervises dozens of the Phillies staffers who seat fans and "handle the ruckuses" - called on his six years as a Vietnam-era Army medic to help save the baby's life.

"The baby was cradled in her mother's arms, scantily clothed, not dressed for the cold and the wind," Melograna said at last night's Phillies game.

"I blocked off the wind with my body and gave the baby a chest massage to start her breathing again. Then the Phillies' emergency staff rushed her to Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. I was glad to hear that she's fine."

PHANTASY CAMP: Melograna, 64, who grew up "six blocks from here" and just celebrated the 40th anniversary of his marriage to his South Philly High School sweetheart, Linda, said that her 50th-birthday gift to him was a week at the Phillies' Dream Week Phantasy Camp.

"I played second base, got four hits and pulled two hamstrings," Melograna said of his tour with ex-Phillie greats including Larry Bowa and Greg Luzinski.

"I made a catch to save the game and broke two ribs. Then I scored from second with the ribs taped. I ran through a stop sign from third-base coach Richie Hebner (Phillies, '77-'78).

"When I slid home, I couldn't breathe. Richie crawled on his hands and knees from third base to congratulate me. He was laughing so hard he could barely crawl."

Although he "came home looking like the Hunchback of Notre Dame," Melograna said, his competitive fire still burns.

"Once that dies," he said, "turn me over and let me go meet my mom and dad in heaven."

GREAT PHILLIE MOMENT: "I always wanted to be with my son, Michael Alexander, when the Phils finally won the World Series," Melograna said. "And when they did, I was standing here with my son next to me. I had tears in my eyes, but they were tears of happiness. I'll never forget that moment."

'A MILD NIGHT': The liveliest thing happening in Melograna's 21 seat sections was the ballpark debut of a Carlos Ruiz fan club. Chooch's Cheeches - seven fans from Medford Lakes, N.J. - all wore huge sombreros, rainbow serapes and heavy fake mustaches - even Spencer Blanchard, 11, and his mom, Lisa.

"A missing kid, duplicate tickets, a couple of ejections for using foul language in front of children, - all in all, it's a mild night," Melograna said.

Ruiz, by the way, hails from Panama, not Mexico.

GOT PHILLIES? Got a Phillies story, ritual, photo, family history? Phanatic kids or pets? Send your phanaticism to me at Phillies@phillynews.com.

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