As pitchers and catchers took the field in sunny Clearwater, Paula Bryan sat in the cold in South Philadelphia, waiting for Phillies tickets to go on sale.
“This is my first time doing this, I’m just a babe in the woods,” she said.
The rabid Phillies fan, who named her Bichon frise ‘Utley’ after her favorite second baser, planted a plastic lawn chair outside Citizens Bank Park at 7:15 last night -- to call dibs on the team’s upcoming home games. She became fan No. 1.
“I just wanted to be able to get good tickets,” the Wallingford, Pa. native said. “I love the team, always have, been following them for years.”
The Phillies opened up the ballpark ticket windows at 8:30 this morning, to sell individual game stubs for the 2013 baseball season. It was girl power at the front of the line – the first four fans were women.
“The men are lazy, they’re home sleeping, snoring, can’t get up,” said Vanessa Roberts, No. 2 in line. “All the ladies in the house say ‘Hey.’”
And while there was plenty of passion in each fan, the mood was more subdued this year. As one fan told me, “They’ve got more people taking pictures and interviewing than there are people in line.”
“Obviously we’re in a little bit of a different situation coming off the last couple of years. Last year didn’t end as we had hoped,” Phillies VP of Ticket Sales John Weber said. “But we’re looking forward to this season.” Despite the dismal on-field results, Weber says the team led the league in attendance the last two years.
At this year's ticket kickoff, the Phils offered food, tours of the ballpark and dugouts, a meet-and-greet with retired Phillie Tommy Greene and handed out team gear.
About 100 people donned a number-marked wristband to cement their place in the queue. But they’re in a race with fans who are buying tickets online and by phone. No way to get your tickets says Rick Marino from King of Prussia.
“I gotta do it in person,” says Marino, fan No. 14. “I’d rather have them in my hand. I want the real ticket. I like the atmosphere too.”
Jason Zambriczki, fan No. 35, says waiting in line is faster than logging online. “There’s too much traffic online…you’re usually waiting a half-hour to an hour,” he said. This is his sixth time lining up for tickets. “The faithful still come out.”
And for fan No. 30, Natalie Podgurski, she says waiting in person is the only way to score the best free stuff.
“I want to get all the giveaways. I like souvenirs…anything I can get,” the 19-year-old from Mayfair said.
As for Paula, camping in the cold paid off. Phillies alum Tommy Greene, part of the 1993 championship team, bought her two seats for the home opener on April 5. After planting a kiss on Greene’s cheek and snapping a few photos, she spun back to the window to buy tickets for six other games.