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11/01/09 2:16 AM EST

Series return fires up fans in Philadelphia

Faithful eager for team to prove that '08 title wasn't fluke

PHILADELPHIA -- Chris Smith calls himself the father figure of Philly fanaticism.

He listens to every Phillies game on the radio -- "I wish some day I could meet Scott Franzke and Larry Andersen, because I feel like I know them," he said -- because there's no television coverage at his Gettysburg, Pa., home.

He had seen Philadelphia win it all in 1980, struggle for years and regain glory last season. But he had never been to the World Series.

So imagine his reaction when he found out last Thursday that his girlfriend nabbed four tickets to Game 3 at Citizens Bank Park, an eventual 8-5 loss to the Yankees. Her best friend is the girlfriend of the son of Phillies third-base coach Sam Perlozzo.

"This is like the epitome," Smith said from his seats in the right-field upper deck, where he was sitting two hours before first pitch. "It doesn't get any better than this. This is a lifelong dream come true. It really is."

That was a common sentiment across the ballpark before the game. Last year's World Series may have ended nearly 30 years of sports misery, but this one's about proving that '08 wasn't a fluke.

Edward Johnson is looking forward to bragging rights over his college buddies from Rutgers.

"They always said that if the Yankees were in the World Series -- or even Boston -- we wouldn't have won [in 2008]," said Johnson, who shares a mini-plan ticket package with his father. "This will mean a lot if we can win right here."

Win or lose, it meant plenty for the sellout crowd in attendance.

Eleven-year-old Tom Gibson said he scored tickets through Milt Thompson, the Phillies hitting coach who also instructs Gibson at a baseball academy.

2009 World Series
Gm. 1 PHI 6, NYY 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 2 NYY 3, PHI 1 Wrap Video
Gm. 3 NYY 8, PHI 5 Wrap Video
Gm. 4 NYY 7, PHI 4 Wrap Video
Gm. 5 PHI 8, NYY 6 Wrap Video
Gm. 6 NYY 7, PHI 3 Wrap Video

He missed school all week because he was sick, but never considered skipping his first Fall Classic game. After all, even though he was appropriately dressed in full Phillies garb, he also likes the Yankees, largely out of respect for Derek Jeter.

"It's a great opportunity for my son," Gibson's father, also named Tom, said. "You don't get to go to too many World Series with both of your favorite teams playing."

The MacMillians know a little something about that. Dave sat in the upper deck wearing his Jimmy Rollins jersey. To his right was Evelyn, proudly donning a Yankees cap and Alex Rodriguez jersey. Husband and wife, married five years; till baseball do they part?

"I felt bad cheering the other night," said Dave MacMillan, originally from the Philadelphia area.

"Yeah, I'm going to be mad if [the Yankees] don't win," said Evelyn MacMillian, who grew up in a Yankees household in Queens. "That's what's going to happen. He's the diplomat. I'm mad."

They flew up from their Orlando, Fla., home without tickets, hoping they would find a way in. They did, eventually, though it took a last-minute call to StubHub from outside Citizens Bank Park to make it happen. And along they way, they decided what to do about having kids: twins, they said, so one can pull for each team.

Their Spring Training joke about facing off in the World Series became reality.

Though the Phillies lost on a rain-soaked evening, the experience meant plenty for the 46,061 in attendance.

"It's special," Evelyn MacMillan said. "This is something you take off the bucket list."

David Gurian-Peck is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.