About The Author
Welcome to Jenn’s Phillies Blog! I am an Italian girl from New Jersey, currently residing in slower, lower Delaware and have been following the Phillies since I was seven years old. Here is why I love baseball and why I love the Phillies:
I was born with a severe disability that left me unable to walk like other kids and spent a great deal of time in hospitals, in and out of wheel chairs, having operations on my legs and finally by the age of 5 was put into metal leg braces. I would sit and watch other kids do normal kid things and get very upset that I couldn’t play with them too. One day my mom asked if I wanted to play baseball, as I stared sadly out the car window at the boys outside running around, having fun. Of course I did. So, she turned the car around, pulled up to the field and told me to take off the leg braces. We then marched, or in my case, hobbled, onto the field where the tee-ball try-outs were being held and she announced that I would be trying out.
As you may imagine, there was a bit of resistance to this idea. To begin with, I was a girl, as several male coaches so astutely pointed out. Back in the late seventies/early eighties, this was unheard of. Girls simply did not play baseball. Secondly, I was handicapped and could barely walk, let alone run. My mother quickly found one coach that turned out to be the husband of her best friend. She politely and in forceful Italian Mama fashion, informed him that I would be trying out and he would be putting me on his team or he would be in a great deal of trouble with his wife when he got home. Next thing I knew, I had a glove and was standing on third base.
Playing baseball did much more for me than I had ever imagined. My only hope at that point was just to do something that made me feel like a normal kid, to be accepted as one of the group. But I learned a lot more than that too. Physically, it helped me learn balance and coordination which I desperately needed in my condition to be able to live with my disability. I found social skills that I didn’t know I had, I gained confidence and I learned to believe in myself.
At the end of my first year in tee-ball, the coach was handing out the trophies. When he came around to my turn, one of the boys on the team asked why my trophy didn’t have a little girl on top. He said, “Because she is one of the guys.” I looked around and every boy on the team nodded in agreement and they all clapped and cheered for me. It was the first time I ever felt like I fit in anywhere.
As for the Phillies…that same year, our team had been invited to go to a Phillies game and participate in the pre-game warm-up’s out on the field. Back then, they would allow a local team to take the field and shag some balls in front of the crowd (I don’t think they do this anymore). I remember being disappointed that the coach would not let me play 1st base, but I stopped there on my way out to right, stood on the base for a minute and looked around. I thought, ok, this is what Pete Rose sees everyday….cool.
Then, I was off to right field where I listened to the crowd yell, “Oh my God, there is a little girl out there!”, and various things of that nature. Again, remember the time period…in fact, this was 1980 to be exact. I was so nervous by the time the ball was hit to me, with all those people yelling and staring, I thought for sure I’d drop it. But, thankfully, I did ok. After that, we were escorted to the dugout to meet Dallas Green and have out photo taken with him. He walked right over to me and started making a big deal over me being the only girl and said I would get to stand next to him for the photo. After that he teased me a bit, told me I was pretty and then asked if I would marry him. And I will not forget this as long as I live…I actually said to him that I did not think my Mom would let me. Yes, I am a total dweeb. Not sure what I was thinking there. I was nervous and it was the first thing that popped into my head. Duh! Of course, he laughed at me and I was rightfully embarrassed. Silly girl…oh well!
Anyhow, I watched the Phillies faithfully after that and as we all know, they won the World Series that year. I have met Dallas Green many times since that day and have always been tempted to ask him if he’d still like to marry me. Somehow, I think it wise to keep that to myself though. I think there may be a statue of limitations on marriage proposals. Especially when they involve eight year old girls.
So, now I am a grown person, still rooting for the Phillies. I have not played competitive baseball since after my 2nd year in High School when my knees finally gave out. I coached boys little league for a while after that, but now I mostly get my fix by taking pictures and writing. Still walking…some days are good, some days not so good, but I guess every day I am still standing is a good day.
Hope you enjoy the web site! Please leave feedback or E-Mail me to let me know how you feel or if you just want to say hello! Go Phillies!
Here is a Photo Tribute from the 2011 season. All photos were taken by Jenn during the 2011 season. It has become a yearly tradition: