I was fourteen during the summer of 1964, and I had two big loves: the Beatles and the Philadelphia Phillies. I’d been in love with the mop-haired Brits ever since they’d appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show months earlier and since seeing them on TV, had spent all my allowance money on their records and fan magazines, and had scotch taped their pictures to my bedroom mirror. And the Phillies? I’d loved the game of baseball and had been an ardent Phillies fan ever since I was a little girl, and I well remember listening late at night to their West Coast games on the little transistor radio I kept hidden under my pillow. From the beginning of the 1964 season, the Phillies had been in first place and were heading for glory and a World Series berth. Or so everyone in Philly thought at the time.
My parents approved of the Phillies, but certainly didn’t look kindly upon the Beatles. My father, an immigrant from a shtetl near Kiev in what had been the Russian Empire, was old enough to be my grandfather, and he regarded with suspicion the writhing group of young men who had caused his quiet and studious daughter to scream when they appeared on Ed Sullivan that fateful Sunday evening. So, when I got a ticket to attend the Beatles concert that was coming up on September 2, he was none too pleased. How about, he suggested, instead of going to the concert, you go with me to a Phillies game? My father almost never took us kids anywhere (except for occasional trips to Atlantic City), and he certainly never took me anywhere on my own, let alone to a Phillies game. So his offer put me in a quandary. It pitted my two big loves against each another, with my father’s love thrown into the mix. In the end, it proved to be an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I caved in and gave my Beatles ticket away—convincing myself that I was now a mature young lady who was above all that screaming and hysteria. When the day came, we traveled to the game by subway on our way to Connie Mack Stadium. When we got off the subway and headed to the street, we were greeted by a taxi driver calling out, “Beatles or baseball?” (Looking back, it does seem odd that the driver should have called out thus, as the two venues, Connie Mack Stadium and the Convention Center, were nowhere near each other, but perhaps he had found himself caught up in in all the excitement: the Phillies in the playoff hunt and playing at home, and the Beatles performing in town. And “Beatles or baseball?” certainly had a ring to it!)
The outcome of the game didn’t stick in my memory, but looking it up on Google, it turns out that the Phillies won, 2-1, against the Houston Colts. What I do remember is how upset I got with myself just a few days later about giving up the chance to see the Beatles. Stupid! I berated myself. It’s not every day you get a chance to see them! How could you have given your ticket away?! Towards the end of September, I felt even worse, as the Phillies, the team considered a shoo-in to play in the World Series earlier that month, had gone on a ten-game losing streak, and ended up in second place. No Beatles concert, no World Series. I felt bereft.
Luckily for me, the Beatles returned to Philadelphia a few years later. In the summer of 1966, they played at J.F.K. Stadium, and this time, I kept the ticket I had bought and went. It was hard to see them as I was sitting far away from the stage (they were wearing bright green suits and were so far away that they did kind of look like their namesakes, albeit with guitars), and you couldn’t hear much for all the screaming, but I was ecstatic anyway. And the Phillies? They didn’t get to play in the World Series until 1980, and I was long gone by then, wearing orange robes and teaching yoga and meditation in Fiji.