SOPHIE'S LIKE GRANDPA! Sophie Smith, 15 months old, of Asheville, N.C., has rejected her misguided dad Jeremiah Smith's affection for the Atlanta Braves in favor of the Fightins fervor of Philly-born mom Maria Wexler Smith and grandpa, Joel Wexler.
Wexler, a Northeast Philly guy who now lives in Keystone, Colo., told Billy that he sits behind home plate at Phils-Rockies games, "wearing my official Charlie Manuel warmup jacket" that, he says, often leads to "salty banter."
"Rockies fans are funny," Wexler says. "When I yell at their players, they shoosh me. Shooshed! At a baseball game! Can you imagine being shooshed in Philly?"
Wexler, who skis in his Phils jersey - "People yell at me from the lift!" - remembers growing up in Northeast Philly in the '50s and '60s, when "we'd take two hot buses and the subway to get to 21st and Lehigh, and sit in the Connie Mack Stadium grandstand.
"I remember unintentionally smashing some kid in the nose when Richie Allen hit a three-run homer - they didn't call it a 'walk-off' then - to win the first game of a doubleheader in 1966. Back then, we would have been happy with a .500 team. What a difference today!"
MOM LOVES PAT: "This is the most important Phillies season in my life," writes Chip Schulz, of Rhawnhurst. "Winning the World Series this year would even top 2008."
Billy asked why. "My father, Carl Schulz, was a huge Phillies fan," Schulz said.
"My mother, Pat, and I, and my son, Nick, would share so many special times at games with him. My dad would bring binoculars so that Nick could watch Larry Bowa rant and rave in the dugout."
During the final season at the Vet in 2003, Schulz said: "My father dreamed of the Phillies winning the World Series in Citizens Bank Park. He was counting down the days until we could go to the new ballpark.
"His dream fell short. He passed away in May 2003 at the age of only 56. My mother was so upset that she decided not to go to any more games."
That finally changed on Aug. 18 this year. "The Giants and her favorite ex-Phil, Pat 'the Bat' Burrell, were in town," Schulz said, "and - do you believe in miracles? - I finally got her to go to a game for the first time since my father died.
"Pat hit a homer, but the Phils won," he said. "If they win the World Series, what a storybook ending to what, for me, is a miracle season because after all these years, my mom went to the ballpark with me, just like we used to do when dad was alive."
BATTLE HYMN OF THE ROYS: To get us all in the mood for the Giants, die-hards Michael Diaz, of Conshohocken, and best buddy Brian Farestad, an Audubon, Montgomery County, native living in Denver, sent Billy this link to their incredible 2008 Division Series video of Brett Myers' crazy at-bat against Milwaukee Brewers stud CC Sabathia - and the Shane Victorino grand salami aftermath. Billy loves this video:
To top that this year, Diaz created "The Battle Hymn of the Roys," which begins: "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of Two Roys," and ends, "Roy and Roy, Hallelujah! Our Roys are going strong!" Here's the link: