Look at it, it’s awesome. I’d be silly not to drive to Reading to get one of these.
That’s what I thought when co-worker Chris Johnson sent me the link in March. The Reading Phillies were having Ryan Howard Garden Gnome Night, and we had to go and get one. I’m in. We bought the tickets, and the plans were made.
Things don’t always go as planned.
Click MORE to see how it went.
Reading is about 65 miles away from our studios in Philly. We figured if we left immediately after I got off the air, we’d be there in plenty of time. They were giving away 2500 gnomes, which seemed like more than enough. We hit the road around 3:3opm.
The journey began with 4 tickets, a GPS, and two guys pretty psyched to get a Ryan Howard collectible. We planned on trading one to Meech over at The Fightins for one of his swell t-shirts and some props on their website, and giving one to Lee Russakoff, who ditched us to talk to Buzz Bissinger.
We pulled up around 5pm to the first sign of trouble. We saw this:
A line, a big line. A line that wrapped halfway across the stadium. Clearly, we weren’t the only people who wanted the gnome.
An even worse sign as seemingly every available parking space in Reading was taken. Still, amidst the bad signs, we had a good attitude. We were going to get gnomes. A good attitude, unlike this lady.
I don’t know her name, so we’ll call her Debbie Downer. She told us there was “no way” we were getting a gnome. That there were “far more than 2500 people” already inside and in line. I told Chris that there was no way she knows what 2500 people look like. “She’s from Reading, when has she ever seen 2,500 people?”
We heard rumors that people began lining up around noon to be sure they’d get a Ryan Howard gnome.
I told Chris that the only sign I would accept as bad would be the line moving too quickly. If the line began to move quickly, it meant they were out of gnomes.
Well, what I hadn’t counted on was another bad sign. A bad sign that looked like this:
There are two important things to notice about this picture; first, these guys are walking AWAY from the stadium. The other important thing, they’ve got multiple gnomes. These guys had bought multiple tickets, just to stockpile garden gnomes.
Nerves became panic, as I saw this:
THAT LADY MUST HAVE THREE RYAN HOWARD GARDEN GNOMES! This isn’t good, this isn’t good at all. I turn around and see this:
Some old guy standing up against the stadium wall with TWO Ryan Howard Garden Gnomes. Just flaunting them. He didn’t care if I got one or not, he had TWO.
Then it happened, my worst fear. The line started moving quickly. “We’re not getting gnomes are we?’ I asked Chris. He didn’t answer. Debbie Downer did though, “I told you we weren’t getting them.”
We walked into the stadium as they ripped our tickets. No gnomes to be found. I just kept repeating to Chris, “we came all the way to Reading, and we’re not getting gnomes. I can’t believe we’re not getting them.”
Once we got inside the stadium, it seemed like everyone got them but us. Hell, this fat guy got a gnome.
And it wasn’t just that fat guy, everywhere we looked, white boxes full of collectible garden gnomes, modeled after our All-Star first baseman. This lady with terrible hair, she got a gnome.
Then it started getting insulting, this guy was obviously smugly holding his gnome for us to admire.
As he boldly showed off his white box, I got a text from my girlfriend. “My brother just saw a Ryan Howard Garden Gnome on Ebay for $250.” WHAT? Clearly those people walking from the stadium just came to get the gnomes to sell them. We wanted to keep them. Hell, we were going to give one to Lee, and he bailed on us. Ebay?!
It got worse inside. Little girls who didn’t even care about Ryan Howard got gnomes.
I asked Chris, “what the hell is going on here?!” He had no gnomes, and no answers. All he has is a stupid Jayson Werth shirt.
How could this happen? We bought our tickets in March! We were in the front row!
We were so close to the action that we were eye to eye with the guy running around in a costume that made it look like he was riding an ostrich as he threw hot dogs to the crowd.
We got up to get something to eat, and then the final insult. An old lady who was so sure that she was getting a Ryan Howard Garden Gnome that she brought a bag for it. Her very own garden gnome purse. Look closely, you’ll see the white box inside of her gaudy bag.
It was over. We didn’t get one. We waited almost 6 months, spent $50 on tickets, and drove 65 miles each way to watch the Reading Phillies play the Trenton Thunder and not get Ryan Howard Garden Gnomes. While selfish profit-mongers sell theirs on Ebay, we go home empty handed. Empty handed, just like this disappointed fan. Gnomeless.
Sometimes you get the garden gnome, and sometimes the garden gnome gets you.
Well, not totally empty handed. We still had our tickets, and we still had our GPS.
We talked about the trip on our podcast. Listen HERE.