Hunter Hits Town

31 Jul

You only get one chance to make a first impression.  Lucky for Hunter Pence, that’s all he needed.

The 181st consecutive sell-out crowd (ho-hum) at Citizens Bank Park last night couldn’t get enough of their new right fielder.  While the Bank welcomed its 25 millionth fan, the fans welcomed Pence with standing ovations when he came out for batting practice, when he ran out to right field waving his hands above his head, when he got his first hit (and RBI) as a Phillie, and pretty much any time he moved, stretched,  or spit.

As for Pence, imagine for a minute his last 24 hours.  He was pulled from the game Friday night and and was seen in the dugout giving emotional hugs to his teammates and saying good-bye to the team he has played for his entire career.

Saturday morning he took a flight out of Milwaukee (where the Astros had been playing the Brewers), changed planes in Detroit, landed in Philadelphia and came straight to the ballpark where his new manager had already written his name on the line-up card.

And less than 24 hours from when he left Miller Park an Astro he jogged out to right field in Citizens Bank Park with his old-school, pants high look now sporting his new Phillies red socks.  In less than a day he had gone from the team with the worst record in baseball at 35-71 to the team with the best, 66-39

“I’m telling everyone I just jumped 62 games in one day,” Pence joked before the game.  “I think that might be epic proportions.  I don’t think anyone can beat that.  It’s pretty cool.”

And that was before he took the field.  The Phillies went on to beat the Pirates 7-4.  Pence went 1-5 on this night (although replay clearly showed he beat out an infield hit his first time at-bat but was called out) with 1 RBI.  He was in the five hole hitting behind (and hopefully protecting) Ryan Howard who went 4-4 with a home run, two doubles and three RBI.

Coincidence?  Probably, but it was still an auspicious start for the Astro turned Phillie who is still trying to take in his whirlwind ride.”

“I can’t even begin to explain it.  It’s surreal.  I’m absolutely ecstatic to be here.”

A new day, a new city.  New teammates, new uniform, new home.  All in 24 hours.  It is one of the oddities of sports that these highly paid athletes,  in complete control of their every move on the field, can have no control of their lives off of it.

So it is for Hunter Pence on this hot July night.  And what were his first impressions of us?

“The fans were giving me chills.  To see that kind of support from my first game, it’s awesome.  Thank-you.”

No thank you, Hunter.  We’ve been waiting for you.

My Mom put it all into perspective with this Haiku I just had to share.  It is Hunter’s first but certainly not his  last.

SusPence over now

Hunter is new in our house

Not a quiet mouse.

Perfect!  Thanks, Mom.

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