There were 300-plus Blues fans at the tiny Mummers clubhouse in South Philly on Sunday night to see whether their team could finally win a Stanley Cup.
That didn’t happen. St. Louis was dumped, 5-1, and will now have to win in Boston on Wednesday in Game 7 if they want to hoist the Cup. These people have waited a half-century for a championship, what’s three more days? Eagles followers can empathize.
But these fans, who formed the largest sea of blue outside of the Jacks New Years Brigade this spring, each took a different journey to 16th and Moyamensing, but the reason they were here was the same.
This is where the “Play Gloria” movement started and they just had to experience it for themselves. The cops, wisely anticipating a large crowd, even blocked off the street.
“Philly and St. Louis are a lot alike,” said Paul Fusco, who spent the weekend caddying for Sei Young Kim at the ShopRite LPGA Classic. “They live and die with their sports teams. I just had to come see this. This place is an urban legend in St. Louis.”
Kim, the 2015 LPGA rookie of the year, finished tied for 34th at the weekend tournament outside of Atlantic City. “She would love this place,” Fusco said.
Blues fans certainly have lived with their team during one of the most remarkable in-season turnarounds in recent sports history. Sunday’s loss didn’t kill them, but it did put them on the brink.
Matt Berblinger and Kevin Quinn used to work together in St. Louis, but now Berblinger is in Raleigh, N.C., while Quinn has relocated to Boynton Beach, Fla. They each took flights on Sunday morning to come to Philadelphia just to experience what was going on in South Philly.
“We thought about going to the game, but saw the ticket prices and said, ‘Bleep it, let’s go to Jacks,’ ” said Berblinger, a sales manager for Enterprise fleet management. The ticket aggregate site TicketIQ on Saturday said the average price on secondary markets for Bruins-Blues Game 6 was $4,299. It’s the third-highest price they’ve tracked for any sporting event since 2011.
(Monday’s Raptors-Warriors Game 5 in the NBA Finals, in which Toronto can win the franchise’s first championship, is tops as of Saturday, at $5,695. Game 7 of the 2016 World Series, when the Cubs ended a 108-year drought, was $5,300.)
It’s no wonder Berblinger didn’t mind paying $440 for his flight, while Quinn shelled out $330. They were scheduled to go right back home on Monday.
“You can tell we’re in sales,” Berblinger said, “because we talked to the wives and they said, ‘Go for it.’ ”
There were three guys at Jacks on Sunday night who are on an impressive stadium tour that will take them to baseball ballparks in Chicago (Wrigley Field), Cleveland, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Boston, and New York. They started planning the trip in February not long after five Blues players walked into the Jacks clubhouse and left with the anthem that has gripped St. Louis.
Ever since that Jan. 6 night, the Blues have mimicked the Jacks and played the 1982 pop song “Gloria” in their locker room after victories. St. Louis has gone from last place in early January to the very edge of a championship. But they’re not there yet. Wednesday will be the first Stanley Cup Final Game 7 in eight years.
“This was still the second-best place to be besides St. Louis,” said Zach Moss, an engineering student at SIU-Edwardsville. “We’re going to take it in seven. And we’re going to be in Boston. We just called a buddy to figure out tickets.”
He and fellow St. Louis natives Ethan Sacco and Garrett Halbach made it to Philly in six hours from Cleveland, arriving 45 minutes before the start of Sunday night’s game. They changed in the car and were running on fumes by the time the Bruins had finished off the Blues. No regrets, they said.