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Season of growth

There are 100,000 square feet of new green space in South Philly — in the Phillies’ under-construction ballpark.

The team unveiled the new grass at Citizens Bank Park last Thursday, a day after the last roll of 100-percent Kentucky bluegrass sod had been laid in place.

Installation began on Halloween with the infield, according to Phillies groundskeeper Michael Boekholder. Crews completed that section of the field the same day. Last week, they planted the outfield grass.

Some cold weather and high winds have not prevented the grass — trucked to the ballpark from the Tuckahoe Turf Farm in Hammonton, N.J., in the form of 4-foot-wide, 70-foot-long rolls — from adapting to its new home.

There is already initial root growth, said Boekholder, who was hired by the Phillies after five years of working for a minor league team in Indianapolis. The roots will continue to grow into December, he said, before the plant shuts down during the coldest stretches in January and February.

The turf will reawaken in early March, Boekholder said, at which time the grounds crew will resume bathing the pampered pasture using the 87 sprinkler heads buried in the field.

"By opening day in April, we anticipate this field should be in excellent condition, rooted down very well, and very solid and stable," he said.

The Phillies have scheduled two exhibition games with the Cleveland Indians on April 3 and 4. They open the season April 12 against the Cincinnati Reds.


Youth has winning ticket

Philadelphia Phantoms season ticket-holders had quite a surprise when receiving their ticket books for the 2003-04 American Hockey League season. Instead of the usual Phantoms logo or a picture of a player on their tickets, fans found drawings of the team from children throughout the Philadelphia area.

Over the summer, the Phantoms held a coloring contest for kids 14 and under. They were asked to submit artwork of a Phantoms game, their favorite player, team mascot Phlex or any memorable Phantoms experience. The response was overwhelming, and 40 entries were chosen to highlight the season ticket books.

One of the winners was 12-year-old Danny Ricciardi of South Philadelphia. His design appeared on the ticket for the Nov. 7 game between the Phantoms and the Hershey Bears.


Guarding his brethren

Joseph Galeone (center), president of the Retired Police/Fire and Prison Guards Association, received the prestigious 2003 Eagle Medallion Award at a recent meeting of the organization.

Galeone, a South Philly resident, was recognized for his dedication and efforts to improve the benefits and economic welfare of all war veterans and pensioned police/fire and prison guards.


Hospital honors cancer chief

St. Agnes Medical Center honored Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach (left), head of the National Cancer Institute, at its annual gala Nov. 1 at the Franklin Institute.

He received his award from Dr. Gerard Vernose. Von Eschenbach, a South Philly native, is a renowned urologic surgeon, now spearheading cancer research at a national level. The surgeon worked on the medical staff at St. Agnes in the 1970s.

The gala also honored Bill Giles, chairman of the Phillies, and Lynn Sheppard, former chairperson of the St. Agnes Medical Center Board of Directors.

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