Veteran’s Stadium has seen its last game. And in the fashion that we’ve come to expect from Philadelphia teams, the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves, 5-2.
This was the last time anyone will ever witness a sporting event or a concert in the 32-year-old stadium.
Built in 1971, the Vet was, like Pittsburgh’s Three Rivers Stadium, one of the multi purpose stadiums popular in that era.
Built to house both football and baseball, it can be argued that the Vet did neither well. However, the Phillies and Eagles did have a place to play, and fans had a place to watch them.
Certainly, anyone who has seen a game at Lincoln Financial Field must have come away impressed by the wonderful new facility.
Hopefully, Philadelphians can expect the same of Citizens Bank Ballpark.
It may well be that a game there will be a wonderful experience, well worth the higher ticket price.
However, there is one thing that is being lost, something lost whenever an old ballpark is torn down to make way for a new one. What is lost is a sense of history.
Baseball greats Henry Aaron and Willie Mays played at the Vet. Mike Schmidt hit hundreds of home runs there, Hall-of-Famer Steve Carlton pitched there.
Should-be-Hall-of-Famer Pete Rose set the National League hit record just off of Broad Street.
Evel Knievel and Karl Wallenda performed there. Granted, all this will still be true when the Vet becomes a parking lot for the two new stadiums.
But will it be the same without the ability to point and tell of the time that Willie Stargell actually hit a ball that far into the upper deck? Will the memories be forgotten?
Already, many people forget Knievel and Wallenda. Without the stadium, what other memories will fade? Maybe it won’t be a bad thing if the 700 level Eagles fans aren’t remembered, but who knows?
A society loses a piece of its past whenever an old public place disappears.
Maybe a stadium is not the most important place to help us preserve those memories, but it certainly is one of them.
While I know that we cannot keep every old structure standing, we may do well to think twice before we allow historic public structures to be demolished.
Here on Temple’s campus, there is a place for Tuttleman, but shouldn’t there also be a place for the Baptist Temple?
Not too long ago, there was a chance that the Baptist Temple would be torn down.
Now, it is being rebuilt.
No one has used the building for many years, but Temple is a better place because it is still standing.
In the future, we will be able to enter the Baptist Temple and see where Temple Founder Russell Conwell taught.
The preservation of such landmarks is all about community.
The more we share as a community, be it a university or a city, the more ties bind us together.
We may miss Veterans Stadium more than we realize.
William Lodge can be reached at email@example.com.