Phillies fans welcome playoff baseball to Citizens Bank Park

The energy at Citizens Bank Park was nothing short of electrifying on Friday afternoon, with fans of all ages sporting their best shirts and randomly launching into ‘Let’s go Phillies’ chants as they weaved their way through the music and the smells of grilled meats in the ballpark.

Friday’s game against the Atlanta Braves marked the long-awaited return of playoff baseball to Philadelphia, and for many fans the occasion was nothing short of cathartic. For a “supposedly hostile environment,” as Braves coach Brian Snitker described it, Citizens Bank Park hosted many fans who were just happy their team made it this far.

Throughout the evening, the stadium shook with every home run as fans danced and gave up their “Red October” towels. On Friday, the Phillies took a 2-1 lead in the National League’s five-division series, scoring nine points and limiting the Braves to just one. They play South Philly again on Saturday.

Before the match, a fan rushed to the entrance of the stadium shouting: “There is something in the air, hope in the hearts! Others searched for last-minute tickets, while the Phanatic smashed an Atlanta Braves helmet in front of hundreds of cheering fans. The Philly Snacktime band played music for a block party crowd filled with food trucks and a Ferris wheel.

Justin Hofmann, 26, a resident of West Philly, wore as many baseball clothes as he could – Bryce Harper socks, a Phillies cape, a Aaron Nola t-shirt and Phillies boxers – without overheating.

He credited the 2008 Fightin’ Phils for helping him through one of the toughest times of his life. The year the Phillies won the World Series, Hofmann was in a wheelchair, recovering from septic arthritis he suffered while playing baseball on a travel team.

“It was a really traumatic time in my life, but the people at the hospital brought me video games and souvenir t-shirts,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t be missed for the world. Friday’s game.

Others traced their affection for the Fightin’ Phils – win or lose – to their family.

Dawn Boyle, 48, a Ridley resident and season ticket holder, was one of the first people to walk into the ballpark, not wanting to miss a thing and enjoy the moment. Boyle described his dedication to the team as a legacy from his mother.

“She loved them so much,” Boyle said, recalling how she teased her mother for always getting player names a little wrong in the ’80s.

Boyle’s mother died in 2013, but baseball remains a shared experience.

“I prayed to her for those wins,” Boyle said. “His birthday was the 8 [when the Phillies won the wild-card series against the St. Louis Cardinals]. I said that day, ‘You need a win for me.’ So she gave it to me.

Inside the stadium, fans were just as passionate, losing their voices even before the Phillies kicked off the first pitch and share stories of how they inherited their fandom. Briana Morgan, 31, made the trip from South Jersey after buying $65 tickets before the Phillies even played the Cardinals and no game was guaranteed. She said her mother, who accompanied her on Friday, introduced her to the team. They were sitting in the very back row of the ballpark cheering as if they were behind the dugout.

“I could have sold them for a decent penny, but there was no way I was going to sell them, I want to be here,” said Morgan, who had never attended a playoff game before.

Joe Platt, 43, a Delco resident, was another nosebleed ticket holder who described his $60 as money well spent to be in the stadium with other fans.

“It’s a good time to be a fan, we have a lot of good things to come,” he said. “It’s good to be back and starting another rotation like we did in 2008.”

Although many fans had hopes for the World Series, some were just happy for playoff baseball.

“It’s the first time they’ve been in the playoffs since I’ve been alive,” said 10-year-old Jake Palermo, who was there with his parents and brother Leo, who turned 12 on Friday.

The kids joked that they had no choice but to be Phillies fans because of their parents, Kim and Jason, but they said they wouldn’t want it any other way.

The Voorhees family made sure to get good seats for the occasion to increase their chances of catching a baseball and the boys came prepared with their mitts. But ball or not, the youngest of Palermo considered this day as a victory. The family signed a double-decker bus with good wishes for the team and left school early.