Jesse Biddle is enjoying his final days as a high school kid.
On Wednesday morning, he was at Germantown Friends School for the annual sports awards assembly. It was scheduled before Biddle was made the 27th overall pick in the baseball draft by the Phillies, the team he grew up idolizing. So that necessitated some changes to the assembly's program.
The Phillie Phanatic showed up as Biddle was introduced to a standing ovation from the 350 students. Many wore Phillies shirts. (Some even duct-taped "BIDDLE" on the back of Phillies jerseys.) Photo-shopped images of Biddle wearing a Phillies jersey and cap hung on the walls of the Main Building on GFS' campus.
There's even talk of retiring his No. 19 at the school.
"This is the biggest thing to ever happen here," a school official said.
On Friday, Biddle will graduate with 97 others, the largest class in school history. Shortly after that, he officially will sign his first professional contract with the Phillies, which has been completed. Then, Biddle will report to the Gulf Coast League Phillies, the club's rookie team in Clearwater, Fla. It begins play June 21.
"As soon as possible," said Biddle, 17. "Jumping right in there."
And the player the Phillies took higher in the draft than any other local pick in team history will try to keep it all in perspective.
"It's really starting to sink in," Biddle said, "because I see how much this means to everybody, not just me."
Biddle said the outpouring of support and congratulatory calls has been enormous. Whenever he tries to sit and take it all in, he said, there's another call from a friend or a reporter.
One call he never had the chance to answer was from the late Phillies legend Robin Roberts. About a year ago, Biddle was introduced to Roberts through a family friend. The two talked often.
Roberts advised Biddle as he weighed skipping college and signing when drafted. Biddle has a scholarship to the University of Oregon that he will forgo.
"He really helped me be able to get a better-educated idea of what it takes," Biddle said.
"When he passed away was when I first thought, 'Maybe I have a shot at going in the first round to the Phillies.' I was hoping to be able to talk to him as soon as that happened."
Roberts died 32 days before the Phillies drafted Biddle. Now, Biddle is on the verge of beginning his career with a great deal of attention.
"I haven't had a lot of time for myself," he said. "But that's fine. I'll have time for that later."