In 1962, a train crash forever altered the lives of baseball fans headed to Philadelphia for a Phillies-Pirates tilt. Fifty-seven years later, the tragic day is often overlooked. But for those who survived, it was a life-altering experience they’ll never forget. The same can likely be said for those impacted by the deadly South Philadelphia explosion that rocked a neighborhood in December. Officials are still investigating to unearth more details, but they have revealed what caused the blast.

The 'baseball special' from Harrisburg to Philadelphia crashed in Steelton on July 28, 1962. (From The Patriot-News archives)
PATRIOT-NEWS ARCHIVES
The 'baseball special' from Harrisburg to Philadelphia crashed in Steelton on July 28, 1962. (From The Patriot-News archives)

It was a Saturday night — July 28, 1962. The Phillies defeated Pittsburgh 9-2, but what stuck out to many were the 14 adjoining rows of empty seats at Connie Mack Stadium amid the filled sections around them. The fans who were supposed to fill those seats never made it to the game.

That’s because a train carrying Central Pennsylvanians to the cross-state battle derailed a few miles east of Harrisburg, leaving 105 people injured and 19 dead. When first responders arrived on the scene, they found red baseball caps drifting in the Susquehanna River’s shallow current.

The ride has come to be known as the “Phillies Special" and goes virtually forgotten as anniversaries pass by. The Inquirer’s Frank Fitzpatrick takes a look back at the tragic day and speaks to survivors about the life-altering ride.

An explosion less than a week before Christmas devastated a South Philly block, killing two people while destroying five homes. On Thursday, officials said the cause of the blast was a cracked natural gas main.

Witnesses described a strong odor of gas following the explosion. But until Thursday, city officials had mostly declined to comment on the investigation into the cause.

The explosion rocked the neighborhood in the late morning and was heard from blocks away. Three homes collapsed and a three-alarm blaze followed. Some neighbors wondered if previous work on the block contributed to the explosion, but Fire Commissioner Adam Thiel said it “will take some time” to determine the root cause.

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Haley Richardson has performed and recorded all over the world and released two albums.
Anna Colliton
Haley Richardson has performed and recorded all over the world and released two albums.

When Riverdance made its theatrical debut, Haley Richardson was eight years away from being born. Now, the 17-year-old fiddle player from South Jersey will be at the Merriam Theater as part of the 25th-anniversary tour of the Irish music-and-dancing extravaganza.