April 28, 1995 |
Baseball fans who grew up in the area in the 1950s and the 1960s can easily understand how Bill Dugan developed such a deep and abiding love for the sport. He literally lived next door to a magical old structure that lured thousands of fans with its quirky layout, its singular aroma, and, most important, its beautiful and ageless grass-and-dirt field. "Until I was 7 years old, I lived right across the street from Connie Mack Stadium, right across from the center-field flagpole," said Dugan, Cardinal O'Hara's baseball coach for the last 21 years, who recently recorded his 300th coaching victory.
April 8, 1993 |
In 1991, I wrote about the last ball ever put in play at Connie Mack Stadium. I pointed out that the first ball put in play at Veterans Stadium in 1971 was in the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., and that the last ball from the old stadium was in the Wind Gap, Pa., home of Ken Dutt. While the hallowed Hall of Fame would have been happy to own the baseball and add it to its permanent collection, Dutt only wanted to lend it to the Hall of Fame with the rights to retrieve it. Hence, the rub. Finally, frustrated by his inability to place the ball and have the appropiate "on loan from the collection of" tag affixed to it, Dutt, as he threatened two years ago, decided to sell it. Dutt co-signed it to Centerfield Collectibles' "Off-Season Auction" last winter and affixed a $12,000 minimum bid to it. Baseball history shouldn't come cheap, he reasoned.
August 17, 1992 |
As a young man, Ben Smith used to sit up in the left-field bleachers at old Connie Mack Stadium and yell "Hit it! Hit it, you bum!" Yesterday, Benjamin Smith Sr., somewhat older but just as exuberant, returned to 21st and Lehigh. And he brought with him a bleacher-size crowd of more than 3,000 people. The occasion was the opening of the 78-year-old pastor's new Deliverance Evangelistic Church, the largest in the city, built on the site of the old ballpark. The pastor, an old Phillies fan, hasn't forgotten the charms of Connie Mack Stadium.
May 2, 1992 |
Shawn Murray barely knew his grandfather, but his father had told him plenty about the former news photographer. Ah, the stories: Granddad, at first a truck driver at the old Philadelphia Ledger who then talked his way onto the photo staff; Granddad perched precariously atop the yet-unfinished Delaware River Bridge in 1925, capturing Philadelphia from an entirely new angle; Granddad's flash going off in a Philadelphia courtroom to snap the '20s...
July 7, 1991 |
The 20th anniversary of Veterans Stadium has come and gone with scarcely any notice, even in Philadephia. At the same time the demolition of Chicago's Comiskey Park has made front pages all across the country. The "new" Comiskey Park and the stadium in the works in Baltimore have won approval in part because they recall earlier major league fields. They are relatively modest in scale, and their planners have tried to integrate them into the geography of the city. What do these responses tell us about how we regard these important public buildings?
July 12, 1990 |
Once there was a church built of bricks and steel where the faithful worshipped on sunny afternoons when the weather was warm and the beer was cold. There the congregants lifted their voices to the artful ministries of Ruth and Gehrig, Roberts and Mays, in a place where salvation came from the bullpen rather than heaven. But as the years passed, the sanctuary on Lehigh Avenue grew old and its ministers came no more. Then, fire plus the wrecking ball left clover and dandelions where once had trod the prophets of baseball.
March 17, 1990 |
Well, irony fans, here's one for the books. A politician who has revealed more of her private life than any candidate in memory is now in a political pickle because she won't answer a question about her private life. Texas Treasurer Ann Richards finished first in the Democratic gubernatorial primary Tuesday, but she's now in a run-off with Attorney General Jim Mattox. And she's still facing the question that bedeviled her campaign in the closing days. The question she will not answer: Did she ever use illegal drugs?
November 9, 1988 |
Hubert H. Humphrey lost an election in Minnesota yesterday. Connie Mack was in a fight. And Gary Hart was trying to become President Reagan's man in Washington. The names may sound familiar, but these aren't the guys you may be thinking about. Humphrey, better known as "Skip," is the Minnesota state attorney general, son and namesake of the late senator and vice president. Humphrey tried to follow his father (and his mother, who held an interim appointment) into the U.S. Senate, but lost to Republican Sen. David Durenberger.
August 6, 1988 |
Moments occasionally arise when baseball owners are required to look not just at dollars but at sense, when immediate financial concerns have to be weighed against a club's long-term good. The Phillies' Bill Giles is in the midst of one these periods of angst now as he considers whether or not to renew Mike Schmidt's contract for 1989. And in the first week of July 1914, Philadelphia Athletics owner/manager Connie Mack was faced with such a decision. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, Mack was swayed by income instead of instinct.
August 7, 1987 |
They called the neighborhood Swampoodle. I never saw a poodle there and the spongy terrain was ancient history by the time I came along, the Cohocksink Creek having been rechanneled into a sewer and buried under miles of asphalt and two-story porch-front rowhouses. The name, actually, was a relic of American slang denoting a poor or low-lying section of a city. Some of the landmarks of Swampoodle were Schillings' bakery and ice cream parlor, St. Columba's Church and the greasy spoon at 22nd and Lehigh whose specialty was red-hot Texas wieners.