Love, enthusiasm was in the air at Phillies home opener

Charles Mostoller

It was a day of sunshine, festivities and romance Monday at the Phillies home opener.

Left arm tied up in a sling, Police Officer Jesse Hartnett walked to the mound, threw out the first pitch for the Phillies’ home opener, then got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend on the field Monday.

She said yes.

Hartnett, 33, who had spent two weeks in the hospital after he was shot three times during an ambush chasing a suspect in January, received a hero’s welcome from fans on a sunny Monday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park.

Edward Archer, the alleged attacker, is charged with attempted murder and related offenses. He faces trial later this month.

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It felt like spring for the first time with temperatures in the mid-60s, after a chilly and rainy weekend in Philadelphia.

Despite seats in the stands about half-full, no enthusiasm among fans was wavering as the Phillies faced off against the San Diego Padres.

Fr. Mike Scuderi, a priest at Villanova University, was with his father, Sam Scuderi, still basking in the glory of Villanova’s NCAA championship win from last week.

Scuderi and his father have been coming to Phillies games together since 1970, and their spirits couldn’t have been brighter.

“We’ve been fans all our lives and we try to come out every opening day,” said Scuderi.

“We’re more optimistic than last season. The young guys, if they progress, and they bring other guys up during the year, they should be OK, I think.”

“I think it’s a tradition that he and I started,” Sam Scuderi said of their Phillies games patronage.

“For a number of years we’ve come out for the opener, and it’s just very enjoyable to come out here, especially for the first game because of all the fanfare and the excitement of baseball again. I also think this team is going to surprise some people this year. They’re maybe not going to compete for a championship or anything, but I think we’re going to see a lot of improvement.”

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Another father-and-son duo, David New Sr. from Tabernacle, N.J. and David New Jr. from Marlton, N.J., have also been Phillies fans their whole lives.

“I’ve never been to opening day before,” said New, Sr.

“It’s a good day for the experience.”

New Jr. had season tickets, so he thought to bring his father for opening day.

“The start of the summer – that feeling you get when you watch baseball. It’s just a good feeling. It’s hard to describe,” he said.

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