At bars, hockey yields to Doc

Crowds that came for Flyers couldn't ignore the Phils.

Posted: May 30, 2010

Timing - in life, as in major-league pitching or slapping a puck into a net - is everything.

And so it is for Philadelphia sports fans.

On Saturday night they came to see a Stanley Cup Finals face-off between the Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks.

They got the bonus of seeing Phillies star pitcher Roy Halladay pitch a perfect game against the Florida Marlins - only the second such game in Phillies history.

Brant Borneman and friends John Frederick and Maria Schoeler walked into the sports exacta when they decided to leave Borneman's Center City home and stop by the Field House sports bar at 1150 Filbert St.

"We got there in the ninth inning," said Borneman, 32, a lawyer. "All the TVs went to the Phillies. It was perfect timing.

"Nobody noticed when the Flyers scored the goal," he added. "Everybody was still cheering, 'Doc! Doc!' "

That's Halladay's nickname.

Nor was the capacity crowd of 250 at the Field House alone.

In Glenside, Matt McCleary was among 40 or so fans who came to Jerzee's Sports Bar & Grille.

McCleary said he and his friend James Rose parked themselves under a corner television to watch the Phils. But as the game crept into the eighth and ninth innings, the hockey fans started turning toward the baseball game.

"The corner filled up. Everyone in orange turned red," said McCleary, 27, a Dresher finance manager. "It was intense."

At the Dark Horse Pub in Old City, owner Paul McCloskey flipped over to the Phillies as Halladay was in the final inning of his perfect game.

The bar was glued to the Flyers playoff game, but when McCloskey got a text about the pending moment of Phillies history, nobody argued about a channel change.

"They went crazy. The place shook," the 39-year-old Belfast native said.

And once the hugging and yelling and beer-spraying had ceased, the television quickly returned to ice hockey.

"Within a couple seconds, we had the Flyers back on," McCloskey said.

At the Field House, manager Eric Letellier, 30, said he noticed the developments in the Phillies game and began switching all the bar's numerous large-screen TVs to the Phillies when there was a break in the Flyers game.

At one such pause in the action on the ice, Letellier said, he switched to the game and Halladay put away his 27th batter.

"The timing couldn't have been better," Letellier said.

For some, Halladay's performance brought back memories of the Phillies' last perfect game - in 1964.

Paul Koenig, a bartender at Locust Bar in Center City, was 9 years old at the time and had to miss the last three innings for his dad's Father's Day dinner.

"I remember watching the interview after the game, and Jim Bunning was smoking a cigarette. That blew my mind," he said.

This time around, Koenig, a lifetime Phillies fan and season-ticket holder, got to watch the entire game from his perch behind the bar.

"We have three TVs, so I had the one on the Phillies and the other two on for the Flyers," he said. "The rest of the bar might not have been watching [the Phillies]. But I was."


Contact staff writer Joseph A. Slobodzian at 215-854-2985 or jslobodzian@phillynews.com.

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