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Diehard Eagles fan Leiter details enlightenment

MLB.com @ToddZolecki

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Mark Leiter became a diehard Eagles fan the same afternoon he wore a Randy Moss jersey to an Eagles-Vikings game at Veterans Stadium in November 2001.

The Eagles crushed Minnesota, 48-17.

PHILADELPHIA -- Phillies right-hander Mark Leiter became a diehard Eagles fan the same afternoon he wore a Randy Moss jersey to an Eagles-Vikings game at Veterans Stadium in November 2001.

The Eagles crushed Minnesota, 48-17.

"I walked out of the stadium an Eagles fan and never looked back," Leiter said Tuesday at Citizens Bank Park.

He hopes for another big Eagles victory Sunday, when they host the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game at Lincoln Financial Field. Leiter, 26, grew up in Toms River, N.J., but his family moved around the country a lot as his father, Mark Leiter Sr., played for eight teams over 13 years in the big leagues. The younger Leiter grew up rooting for players more than teams, which is why he wore the Moss jersey to the Eagles-Vikings game at the Vet.

"It was fun," he said. "I wasn't scared."

Video: Leiter eager to compete with Phillies' young staff

Moss caught a touchdown pass that Sunday, but Donovan McNabb threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another touchdown in a rout.

"I was sitting there in awe of the crowd," said Leiter, who was 10 years old at the time. "The [fight] song after they scored, just the atmosphere. Halfway through the game [my father] said, 'You can put your jacket on if you want and just enjoy the game and root for the Eagles.'"

Leiter was hooked.

"Just that atmosphere," he said, "you talk about winning you over."

Leiter knows that atmosphere well. He attended Phillies games when they were in the midst of winning five consecutive National League East titles, two NL pennants and one World Series from 2007-11. He would love to see the ballpark jumping like that again in '18.

"There's no better feeling as a fan," he said. "I can't imagine what it would be like on the field when the crowd gets like that. I mean, packed house and everybody is waving the towels, Dan [Baker] comes on the [PA] system and says, 'We're now joining the national broadcast,' and the crowd goes nuts before anybody takes the field. The excitement is there. If we give the fans a reason, they're going to come out."

His prediction for Sunday?

"I think they're going to win," he said.

Todd Zolecki has covered the Phillies since 2003, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook and listen to his podcast.

Philadelphia Phillies, Mark Leiter