Thursday morning, Mike Fiore kept cutting hair and talking baseball. Naturally, everybody was talking about Roy Halladay at Caravelli Bros. barbershop in Haddonfield. Fiore, who owns the shop, had been among the 46,411 at Citizens Bank Park the night before for Halladay's National League division series Game 1 no-hitter.
Evidently, you can't pitch a postseason no-hitter without Fiore in attendance. He told customers how he had been at Don Larsen's perfect game for the Yankees in the 1956 World Series, the only other postseason no-hitter in over a century of games.
"Tickets were $2.25 - if I'm not mistaken," the barber said of that trip to Yankee Stadium, when he was 12 years old.
Charlie Manuel knows the tale. He didn't know that Fiore was at the park Wednesday night, but the Phillies' manager said he knew Fiore had seen that Larsen game. Fiore is Manuel's barber, too.
"We talk about everything - including baseball," Manuel said Thursday after the Phillies' workout.
"He's very loyal," Fiore said of Manuel. "He could be on the road for two weeks, he'll wait [for a haircut] until he gets home."
Fiore fully enjoyed watching Halladay in action, which was different than the last time, he said. He had been "a diehard Brooklyn Dodgers fan" growing up in Orange, N.J. His father, a barber in Orange, was a diehard Yankees fan.
"My father was telling me, 'You've got to root for the pitcher here,' " Fiore said as he took a razor to a customer's hair. "I told him, 'I understand, yeah.' But I was constantly rooting for the Dodgers." (By coincidence, the Dodgers pitcher that day, Sal Maglie, was nicknamed "the Barber".)
A cousin actually got the tickets in '56. As he remembers it, three cousins, a couple of uncles, plus Fiore and his dad sat in the center-field bleachers. "The bleacher seats opened at 6:30 in the morning. By 8 o'clock, the bleachers were full. The whole stadium was empty and the bleachers were full. It was an eyeful for a 12-year-old. People coming in drunk, getting drunker, and so on."
Of course, Fiore had no idea he was there for history.
"I don't know if you knew Yankee Stadium," Fiore said, referring to the old configuration. "Center field was 461 feet from home plate. We were all the way in the back, one row from the wall. I said, 'Pop, these are the worst tickets in the stadium.' The guy behind me tapped me on the shoulder and said, 'No, this is.' "
Fiore figures there couldn't be more than about 10 people who witnessed both no-hitters.
For this week's game, Fiore's son, Anthony, also a barber in the shop, invited him along. Anthony Fiore had been best man Sunday at his cousin's wedding. For a present, the cousin bought two playoff tickets. Anthony asked his father to go with him. "It turned out to be a good gift," Anthony said.
"I saw two great games and didn't have to pay a dime," Mike Fiore joked. "My father bought one and my son bought the other."
This was the only game all season that Mike Fiore got to see. They parked nearby at the Turf Club, played a couple of races at the off-track betting parlor ("caught a couple of winners"), then got inside to watch the playoff game. They had good seats, in the 26th row of Section 114, just past the Phillies' dugout. The only time he got upset, the older Fiore said, was when a couple of Cincinnati Reds hitters began stepping out of the batter's box to disrupt Halladay's rhythm.
"About the fifth inning, it was raining real hard," Mike Fiore said. "We talked about, are we going to stick it through a delay? I said, 'He's got a no-hitter going. We've got to stay until somebody gets a hit.' "
That's what Anthony Fiore wanted to hear. He goes to more games than his dad and had been at the park for the Game 5 clincher of the 2008 Series, both days of it. That time, he'd gotten tickets from another customer, former Phillies outfielder Geoff Jenkins.
"They loved Jenkins," Manuel recalled about his barbers.
Mike Fiore said Manuel never minds talking baseball with him and other customers. They'll ask him why he didn't bunt in some situation and Manuel will explain it. One time, an 85-year-old customer waiting for a cut provided Manuel with an entire new batting order as the manager sat in the chair. Manuel explained why he went with the order he did, Fiore said.
A barbershop should be a place where sports celebrities are given the regular-guy treatment. As if on cue, a man walked by on the sidewalk and waved inside the shop.
"Bobby Clarke," Fiore pointed out.
This was a little before noon. Mike Fiore was about done for the day. He'd gotten in at 6 to open.
He also said Manuel is due for a cut.
"I thought he might have come today, because he's off," Fiore said. "And they're going on the road."