SBD/August 22, 2011/Franchises

Pro-Phillies Crowd Helps Set Attendance Record At Nationals Park

Philadelphia fans took several buses to watch games at Nationals Park

Saturday's Phillies-Nationals game attracted a Nationals Park-record 44,685 fans thanks to Philadelphia fans' "latest invasion" of the DC stadium, according to Adam Kilgore of the WASHINGTON POST. The sellout crowd, the Nationals' first of the season, "surpassed the old mark, set June 25, 2009, against the Boston Red Sox and their rabid followers, by 2,700." Phillies fans "chanted players' names, roared with each Philadelphia run and booed" Nationals RF Jayson Werth, who played for the Phillies last season. When the Phillies wrapped up their 5-0 victory Saturday night, the seats at Nationals Park "remained about 85 percent full, nearly all of them occupied by Phillies fans." Nationals 1B Michael Morse said, "They're cheering for the other team. You wish they were cheering for you." Nationals P John Lannan: "We had a record crowd tonight. Hopefully, someday the crowd's that big and they're all cheering for us" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/21). In Philadelphia, Matt Gelb noted buses of Phillies fans "poured the out-of-towners into the stadium area hours before first pitch." When Phillies RF Hunter Pence "blasted a solo home run to left, the reaction was louder than some actual Phillies home games." Just before the game's final out, "nearly 90 percent of a still-full stadium stood and clapped." The visiting fans held signs that read "Welcome to Citizens Bank Park South" (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER, 8/21). In DC, Thomas Boswell notes "only a few small groups stood and cheered openly" yesterday during the Nationals' comeback win. Out of roughly 25,000 fans left in Nationals Park in the ninth inning, following a 71-minute rain delay, it "seemed maybe a hundred were Nats fans." DC's Federick Douglass Bridge "had a 30-minute delay due to the unloading of Phils-fan tour buses." Nationals 3B Ryan Zimmerman said, "You have to earn the kind of fans the Phillies have. That takes time" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/22).

SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: MASN's Ben Goessling wrote when the Phillies visit Nationals Park, "there is a different feel to those games than there are to the other 72 the Nationals play at home each year," and that effect "was in play as much on Saturday night as it's ever been." The ballpark "seemed to sag when the Nationals turned a close play, and roared with every base hit for the visiting team." Goessling: "Perhaps more than any other game between these two teams at Nationals Park, this one felt like it was at Citizen Bank Park" (MASNSPORTS.com, 8/20). In DC, Amanda Comak noted Nationals Park's "record attendance numbers have all come in games where the opponent" is either the Phillies, Red Sox or Yankees (WASHINGTON TIMES, 8/21).

IT'S CERTAINLY SUNNY RIGHT NOW: N.Y. Daily News columnist Mike Lupica said this is a "tremendous era" to be a fan of Philadelphia's sports teams, and there is "nothing more fun ... than rooting for the Phillies in this particular timeframe." Lupica: "They’re the biggest attraction right now. They draw the biggest crowds ... and there are as many eyeballs watching Phillies games ... as are watching any of the other big superpowers in baseball.” Boston Globe columnist Bob Ryan said the opening of Citizens Bank Park in '04 "regenerated" the franchise. Ryan: "They were acting like a small-market team in those days. Now they are acting like the big-market team they are” (“The Sports Reporters,” ESPN, 8/21).

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