It appears the cloud that spoiled the clinching game of the World Series for a hundred or 200 Phillies fans has started to lift.
Brent Blanchard and a couple of associates purchased an ad that ran in the Daily News and Inquirer last week asking to hear from other fans whose tickets for the second half of that crazy Game 5 were invalidated, keeping them out of Citizens Bank Park. That happened because a small number of fans called the Phillies after the game was rained out Monday night and said they had lost their tickets, asking if the team could reprint them. When they did, those people apparently sold them, making it a double payday for them and a Wednesday nightmare for others when they walked up to the gates and tried to get in. They were denied entrance. Among those was Blanchard's friend and son, who were told that their tickets were no longer valid. After driving around trying to watch the game at a couple of local sports bars, only to find all of them full packed to the doors, Blanchard's friend and his son headed home.
Blanchard said last week that the Phillies had stopped communicating with him after several exchanges. That's no longer the case. He and John Weber, VP for sales and ticket operations, met this morning and talked specifically about his situation and potential things the Phillies can do next season to make up for what happened. While the Phillies have yet to call with their response to what occurred in that meeting, Blanchard said he was told that they were amenable to talking to everyone who had a problem that Wednesday night on a case-by-case basis.
Blanchard said that he would be contacting everyone who got ahold of him over the next couple days to pass along Weber's message and number.
"They did acknowledge that it happened to a couple hundred people," Blanchard said by phone an hour or so ago. "It's nice to know that the team is sympathizing with the fans [who got caught up in that scam]. And they're acknowledging that it did happen to what are some very loyal fans."
Last week, Blanchard said what he really wanted to do is connect with the original owner of the tickets, who called sometime between Monday night and Wednesday to have the tickets reissued. He hasn't backed off that request. "We're still having that discussion," Blanchard said. "That's the only thing that hasn't been resolved. I'm still talking to them about getting that information."
Blanchard said he started hearing from people as soon as his ad ran. One sent me an e-mail asking for Blanchard's contact information. Here's an excerpt from that note:
The story that the Phillies give is far, far from what actually took place. Despite pleas to talk to a manager or someone with some level of management, no one from the Phillies made any attempt to resolve our issue as Game 5 began and we were stuck outside of the park holding legitimate tickets, having no idea they were reprints which the Phillies provided to season ticket holders. At least 50 people were at the same ticket area as I was with the same issue.
I was told someone was already in the stadium with another copy of the same ticket I held. They confiscated my actual ticket and I was told I would be contacted and the ticket would be returned by mail so I could follow up myself to get my money back from the person I bought the tickets from. They took my address and my business card. That wasn't good enough for the dozens of outraged fans. No one from the Phillies made any attempt to get us into the park, even as standing room only.
Certainly, whatever is done for Blanchard and others who found themselves in the same situation can never get back the experience they lost by not getting into the park. Blanchard acknowledged as much. They missed seeing the first Phillies title in 28 years and the first championship by any major Philadelphia pro team since 1983.
Then there was the cost of the ad, $1100 to run several times in both papers. Still, as Blanchard said, they were too angry not to try and raise attention. Now, less than two weeks later, the story at least has a better ending than it did before.