Phillies fans celebrate World Series berth

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - October 16, 2008 Cole Hamels, Jimmy Rollins and Brad Lidge led Philadelphia to a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game 5 of the National League Championship Series on Wednesday night to send the Phillies to the World Series for the first time in 15 years.

The Phils will face either the Tampa Bay Rays or Boston Red Sox. Tampa Bay leads the ALCS 3-1.

But there was no talk of an opponent Wednesday night. Phillies fans had one thing on their mind: celebrating. When Brad Lidge coaxed Nomar Garciaparra into a game-ending pop-out, a shoulder to shoulder crowd at the popular sports bar Chickie's and Pete's erupted in a deafening cheer.

Amy Weid stood on the rungs of her bar stool cheering almost every pitch and stood out in the crowd with her fuzzy red fedora. The 25-year-old from Washington Township, N.J., said she had to be in Philadelphia for the clinching victory to feel the excitement. "I came here because I wanted to feel the energy," Weid said. "It gives me chills."

Among the red, blue and pinstriped celebrators at Chickie's and Pete's was Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, who led the cheers through the final inning.

"This is great," Nutter, sporting a Phillies jersey with "08" and his name across the back. "There is a tremendous amount of pride and excitement."

Fans poured out on the streets across the city, with no immediate reports of violence or other problems amid an increased police presence. In South Philadelphia, fans honked horns and set off fireworks minutes after the game ended.

It'll be the Phillies' first World Series appearance since 1993, when they lost to Toronto in six games. A decade earlier, the Baltimore Orioles topped the Phillies in five games to claim the title. The team also reached the Series in 1950 and 1915, losing to the New York Yankees (4-0) and Red Sox (4-1), respectively.

For one night at least, the long-suffering fans forgot it's been 25 years and almost 100 seasons since one of the city's major teams has won a title. They forgot the franchise has lost more than 10,000 games. And they forgot the Phillies have won just one World Series championship - and that was nearly three decades ago, in 1980.

But Phillies fans aren't happy just reaching the championship series. Beating Milwaukee in four games in the Division Championship Series and eliminating the Dodgers in five games in the NLCS has the Phillies' faithful dreaming big and recalling the success of 1980.

That's when three-time NL MVP Mike Schmidt, Pete Rose and the Phillies beat the Kansas City Royals in the World Series and gave the city's it's only baseball championship, followed by a celebratory parade to remember.

"I know they won it in 1980, but now I understand it, I know what it means," said Mike Borzilla, 43, of South Philadelphia, who entertained the crowd at Chickie's and Pete's with a Mr. Met-like rubber baseball head and red Incredible Hulk hands. "In the late 70s and 80s we took it all for granted."

Twenty-five years have passed since Philly fans have celebrated a title on Broad Street - the city's own "Canyon of Heroes."

The 1982-83 76ers were the last of Philly's four pro teams to win a title, with a sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals. Their most recent trip to the finals was in 2001, when they lost to the Lakers.

The Flyers set the standard for Philly-stye celebrations when they claimed the first of their consecutive Stanley Cups in six games over the Boston Bruins in 1974. But the team has had nothing but near-misses since, with fruitless trips to the finals in 1985, '87 and '97.

The Eagles have won three NFL championships, but none since 1960.

The end to Philly fans' decades of frustration is now four wins away.

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