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Fans share in euphoria of Phillies' berth

Fans share in euphoria of Phils' berth

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PHILADELPHIA -- They wouldn't go home. Ninety minutes after the final pitch was thrown Sunday, thousands of fans lined up behind the dugouts and home plate at Citizens Bank Park, sharing in the euphoria of the Phillies clinching the National League East Division title -- and their first playoff appearance since 1993.

They were regaled by Phillies Hall of Fame announcer Harry Kalas. Sprayed with beer and champagne on the top of the dugouts by Ryan Howard, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Geoff Geary. Sharing in the moment. Even the Phillies ballgirls got into it, dousing Howard and Victorino behind home plate. Phillies public address Dan Baker seemed to announce everyone on the team to the remaining fans, even Elvis (Pat Burrell's bulldog).

Everyone was touched in some way by the Phillies' success. It was enough to make grown men cry in the stands.

"I used to work at Veterans Stadium in 1993, but this is so much better," Tom Hydul said. "Look at this, you love the moment. I'm here with four diehard fans, and today is the kind of day where you're friends with everyone. I was sitting in my bedroom alone when Joe Carter hit that pitch to beat the Phillies in 1993, and I remember shutting the lights out and crying. There will be tears today, but good tears."

Chris McGinnis' voice was hoarse from talking above the din of the raucous crowd. He was in a group who attended four of the last five home games, because they had a feeling something special was about to happen.

"Philadelphia has been starving for this. We've been waiting so long for what's turned into a perfect season," McGinnis said. "I'll shake a little bit, and I'll say this, 'There won't be a dry eye in the house.' This has been a really charged-up crowd. I can't believe it."

Tim Gillespie, 44, was born in the Philadelphia area, but lives in Apex, N.C. Of all the games he decided to attend as his first at Citizens Bank Park, it was this one Sunday -- the clincher. He trembled a little, his eyes filled with tears as the crowd erupted when Brett Myers caught Wily Mo Pena looking at a called third strike for the final out.

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"This fanbase deserves this from one of their four major sports teams, and they're getting it from the Phillies," Gillespie said. "The emotions drain you, but my only wish is that I had my daughter with me to share the moment. She's my sports buddy. This is our year. It's something you just sense."

It's something Kelly McKenna experienced in 1993 -- when she was three.

"I don't remember that at all, but this is an awesome feeling," she said. "This team has really brought excitement to the city."

Out on the field, the players burst from the dugout when the final out was made. They merged at the mound and interlocked into a joyous, jumping scrum. Phils reliever J.C. Romero bolted from the mass of humanity to look for his wife in the crowd, beaming, he said, "It's been a long trip, a long trip. This season we all learned what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger. It's a long, long season and we did it. We did it."

National League Division Series schedule
Chicago Cubs vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
Date
Time
Site
Network
Wed., Oct. 310 p.m.Chase Field TBS
Thu., Oct. 410 p.m.Chase Field TBS
Sat. Oct. 66 p.m.Wrigley Field TBS
*Sun. Oct. 71 p.m.Wrigley Field TNT
*Tue. Oct. 910 p.m.Chase Field TBS
Colorado Rockies vs. Philadelphia Phillies
Date
Site
Network
Wed., Oct. 33 p.m. Citizens Bank Park TBS
Thu., Oct. 43 p.m. Citizens Bank Park TBS
Sat. Oct. 69:30 p.m. Coors Field TBS
*Sun. Oct. 710 p.m. Coors Field TBS
*Tue. Oct. 96:30 p.m. Citizens Bank Park TBS
* If necessary. All times ET.

Greg Dobbs just kept shaking his head, almost in disbelief, in between hugging teammates and Phils manager Charlie Manuel.

"This is unbelievable," Dobbs said, unable to hear himself talk over the deafening sound cascading down from the sea of red and white towel-waving, screaming fans. "This was if it was scripted. We've been through so much, and what we overcame was so much. We fought, we battled. We never had any doubts that we could do it. There were sacrifices made. There was a lot of hard work involved. I think what makes this really special is that we never gave up, and look at this ..."

Then Dobbs turned his head to absorb the feel of winning again.

For Myers, his primary concern was a simple one: Stay cool. The Phils closer just saw the Mets lose to the Marlins and heard the Phillies fans' react. He had to take a step off the mound to regain his composure.

"I'm looking at Jimmy [Rollins] and Chase [Utley] and thinking I might be getting too pumped," Myers said, awash in champagne, beer and delirium. "I had no doubts. We've been through so much this year. We fought and scratched. We had no doubts, when so many had doubts about us. I suppose that's why this is so sweet. That's why it means so much to this team and to these fans. I mean, look at them. This is for us, it's for this city, it's for the team, and it's for the fans. Our fans. This means everything to them."

Joseph Santoliquito is a contributor for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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