Phillies have some fun at the airport

Phillies have some fun at the airport

PHILADELPHIA -- Shane Victorino nervously looked over his script one last time and stepped up to the microphone. The Phillies outfielder cleared his throat and looked out at the crowd awaiting his introduction.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I'm Shane Victorino of the Philadelphia Phillies," he began, smiling. "Momentarily we will begin boarding flight number 243 to Raleigh-Durham."

Victorino and outfielder Ben Francisco, along with the Phanatic, the ballgirls and members of the Phillies broadcast team, greeted unsuspecting passengers in the Southwest Airlines terminal Tuesday afternoon in a promotional campaign to thank Southwest employees and fans for their support of the Phillies.

Victorino stood by the Gate E17 entrance and announced the boarding procedure for the next Southwest 747 due for takeoff to North Carolina. Francisco stood out on the tarmac holding batons and waved Flight No. 243 from Manchester, N.H., in to its gate. The Phillies are the first Major League baseball team to take part in this venture, though the Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers are expected to hold similar promotional events with Southwest in the near future. The NBA's Spurs and Wizards have also done similar campaigns in the past. Victorino took full advantage of his opportunity to have some fun with the fans, even heckling a woman wearing a Red Sox T-shirt as she deplaned. When a woman in a wheelchair tried making it through the throng of fans and television cameras, Victorino cleared a path for her through the crowd.

"At your service!" he cried.

Phillies broadcaster Gary "Sarge" Matthews hopped onto the flight to greet the passengers, they were getting ready to get off. He was prepared to tell them they could take their seatbelts off. But when he got on he found that they were already standing.

"I had to tell them to put their seatbelts back on," Matthews said.

Radio and television broadcasters Scott Franzke and Tom McCarthy made announcements for the next flight over the loudspeakers for the terminal. And the Phanatic hopped onto the cart to push the flight out onto the runway.

"I was jealous, I wanted to bring the plane in," Victorino said. "But that's alright, I get to read to our fellow passengers and get them on the plane and on their way."

Victorino was also critical of Francisco's baton-waving skills, teasing Francisco for hailing in the plane askew.

"He did a good job though," Victorino said. "So far the plane hasn't hit the windows."

Zach Schonbrun is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.