PHILADELPHIA - While it was the first time for many fans, and while there will be many more first times before this season is complete, the Phillies home opener at Citizens Bank Park was anti-climactic at best.
Maybe the fact that it felt more like February than April had something to do with the ho-hum feel to the building, or maybe it was the fact that the Phillies looked about as offensively inept as the Eagles did when they christened Lincoln Financial Field when they were shutout by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Either way, the new ballpark, while still equivalent to the pretty girl who you can't believe agreed to go to the senior prom with you, seemed to lose a little of its luster during an ugly 4-1 loss to the Cincinnati Reds Monday.
The fans were cold and wet and had little to cheer for. Many sought the sanctuary of one of the restaurants, or under the cover of the concourse, or in the case of many in the upper decks, they yearned for the warmth of home and took an early leave.
"They should have canceled this game today," said Robert Martin of Willistown Township in Chester County, "This isn't baseball weather, this isn't even football weather. This is sit-inside-and-drink-cocoa-by-the-fire weather."
But the elements didn't dampen the spirits of many die-hard fans who remained bright and cheery even if the day wasn't.
"This place is amazing," said Ro DiFerdinand of Media. "This is like a little piece of heaven for me. It already feels like home."
DiFerdinand and her husband James have had a ticket gameplan for 28 years, and had a chance to check out their seats in Section 134 down the third-base line.
"I think they looked around the league and figured out all of the great things all of these other retro stadiums have done and rolled it into one," James DiFerdinand said. "It'll make people forget the Vet. When they showed pictures of it on the scoreboard, there was a chorus of boos already."
A few schools had off Monday and there was a hefty school-age presence in the fan base.
Mike Lehman wouldn't have missed an opportunity to be at the game for all the money in the world.
The 16-year-old Media resident was thrilled, not just because he was skipping school, but because he was at the game with both his dad and his grandfather.
"We've always gone to car shows together," Lehman said. "But to come together and watch a baseball game is really cool. It's a great family atmosphere and to do this fits the whole American spirit."
Mike's father Ben and his grandfather Harvey were in attendance for the opening of Veterans Stadium as well, as evidenced by the pair of fraying tickets Ben produced to prove it.
"This brings back memories of Connie Mack Stadium for me," Ben Lehman said. ""We finally have a place to go that feels like a real ballpark."
But the real authority was Harvey Lehman, who has attended Philadelphia baseball games at the Vet, Connie Mack Stadium, and even as far back as at the Baker Bowl.
"This is the pinnacle of baseball," Harvey said. "I'm just happy to be here at my age."
Another family who took in the game - from perhaps the best seats in the stadium - was Suzanne Daluisio, her two sons Andrew and Nicholas, and her mother Mary Ahn.
Wanting to treat her family to a nice Easter gift, Daluisio went on the Internet, found a ticket broker, and bought four seats. How much she paid, she wouldn't pay, but she promised it was a pretty penny.
When they arrived, she found out her seats were in the Diamond Club, the highly touted seats behind home plate.
"When I heard Diamond Club, I had no idea what that meant," she said. "Then when I got here it was just unbelievable. It's absolutely beautiful. There doesn't seem to be a bad seat in the entire place."
Andrew, 8, was in awe as he watched the players warm up a little more than 50 feet from his seat.
He sat there, raindrops dripping off of his baseball cap, with a grin from ear-to-ear and said, "This is cool."
One noted fan who was meandering through the stadium was Eagles President Joe Banner.
When asked if the opening of Citizens Bank Park was reminiscent of the opening of Lincoln Financial Field, Banner quipped, "Yeah, except my stress level is a heck of a lot lower this time."