I wore an Astros jersey to a Phillies World Series home game
I put on the navy blue singlet, hoping it was somehow laced with courage. I was wearing Astros clothes for a World Series game at Citizens Bank Park: I was going to need some courage.
My Phillies fervor is well documented. But after wearing Phils gear at Minute Maid Park in Houston and being amazed at how nice people were to me, an editor had a brilliant idea: send Kristen to a home game wearing an Astros jersey.
The very act of buying a Houston hat and jersey felt wrong to me, and when I put it on, I’m sure it was psychosomatic, but I felt a bit of an itch.
READ MORE: I’ve worn every Phillies outfit I’ve packed at Minute Maid Park. Here’s how long it took me to get booed.
I was arrested once for doing my job, but putting on the clothes of Phillies opponents felt more disgusting to me personally, because I didn’t choose to get arrested or even break any laws when the police arrested me in 2020, against .. deliberately buying and wearing enemy equipment.
I relish a challenge, though, and I was curious: how loud were the boos going to be?
I walked in with a few ground rules: ditch the shirt and hat if I felt unsafe at any point. No lies – when Bryce Harper homered in the first inning, I wasn’t going to feign disdain. I jumped up and down, screaming with joy and throwing my fist in the air, completely confusing the people standing near me. My colleague, photographer Steve Falk, was concerned for my safety and vowed not to leave me.
It took a full 90 minutes from the time I put on the blue jersey and Astros cap to get my first boo, and it was pretty weak sauce, honestly. Maybe it was Steve’s presence that made people generally behave well. Maybe it was the lopsided game – it was pretty clear from the start that this was going to be a rout for everyone; what did we have to fear from the Astros, or from an Astros fan, on such a night?
Honestly, the most warmth I received came from my family.
” What are you wearing ? cousin Eileen Grimmer shouted when she saw me near her seats on the third base line. (Eventually she asked to take a picture with me, I think to prove I actually did it, possibly the most daring thing a Graham has ever done.)
READ MORE: Why I tweet ‘beloved heroes’ after every Phillies win and what it means – for me and my kids
“I think Uncle Billy and Aunt Jean are going to disown you,” Eileen’s son, cousin Conor Grimmer, said of my parents. (No one has denied me yet, but my father has been alarmed: “What’s happening to you?” he texted when he saw a picture of me.)
My 9-year-old son, Kieran, who gives me my money’s worth in the Phillies fan department, didn’t like the idea. He was afraid that I would be considered a traitor. But eventually he accepted the wisdom of my plan, as it meant I could watch the game.
Let’s be clear: there was no love for the Astros in the park. There were tons of “cheat, cheat” chants at various times. Two Phils fans who led the charge by shouting an unprintable note at every Astros fan who passed by them had been kicked out of the stadium, a security guard told me. Returning to my car after the game was over, I saw fans screaming and holding their middle fingers toward a charter bus of Astros employees. (Not a great look, Philly.)
But most of what I experienced was either good-humored ribs, like the man who gleefully told me he had to boo me, then patted me on the shoulder in sympathy, either a slightly more edgy move but still fairly harmless.
“You have something on your shirt,” one fan said, pointing to the orange letters that spelled “Astros.”
“The Astros stink. They stink! his friend said, moving a little closer to me than I wanted – the sold-out crowd closed in on the standing room. Carefree; I kept moving.
A guy ran his finger down his cheek, mimicking a tear.
“Sorry about your team,” he said. (Not my team, mate.)
People who heard of my mission were generally appalled.
“If your boss made you do this, I’m glad to be retired,” said Rick Feliciano of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.
“It’s almost abuse,” Phillies employee John Clark said.
Chase and Media’s sibling Ashley Beebe — although Chase now lives in St. Louis and flew in for the game — were concerned.
“You could get killed,” Chase said.
Shortly after, my Astros jersey caused a fan to shout “f–you” at me, the worst I’ve heard all night. I think I would have done much worse outside the stadium, with less lights and security, but I chose to keep my experience within the confines of Citizens Bank Park.
Really, the reaction I received was much milder than I expected. No one at the ballpark offered me food or wished my team well, like fans did to me in Houston when I was wearing my Phillies jersey, but in general, Southern hospitality s came to fruition at Minute Maid and Philly’s tenacity with a huge dose of heart and humor came to Citizens Bank Park.
But I’m not going to lie – after Phils reliever Andrew Bellatti knocked out West Chester native Chas McCormick to end the game, nailing the shutout, I put on my Phillies sweatshirt and traded my blue Astros cap against my white knit Phils beanie and felt instant relief.
That is, until friends brought up the idea that my plans to burn or give away the shirt might have to be put on hold. If I wore a stinky Astros shirt to a game where the Phillies took a 2-1 World Series lead, does that mean I have to keep wearing it until the Fightins win a fourth match ?