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'Fandemonium' exhibit celebrates Phillies fans

PHILADELPHIA -- While Major League Baseball players are vastly admired and celebrated, the Philadelphia History Museum at the Atwater Kent took a different route with one of its newest exhibits.

Generations of Philadelphia Phillies fans are commemorated in "Phillies Fandemonium," a 400-square foot exhibit on the second floor of the recently reopened museum.

"We said 'You know something?' What if we just focus in on not the team itself but those people who love the team? The fanatics, as it were," said Charles Croce, the museum's executive director and CEO. "That's kind of where the idea came up."

Upon walking into the exhibit, visitors are greeted by a large backdrop of a photograph featuring hundreds of red-clad fans enjoying a 2012 game at Citizens Bank Park. In front of that stands a television that shows -- on a loop -- a five-minute video of Fox 29's footage of the 2008 World Series parade.

Two seats from the demolished Veterans Stadium sit next to a case displaying a No. 20 Mike Schmidt and a No. 11 Jimmy Rollins jersey. Even a champagne bottle the team used to celebrate the 2008 World Series championship is on display.

In the middle of the room, an old baseball autographed by Larry Bowa and a program signed by Steve Carlton are among the cased collection of late Phillies fan Helen M. Beitler, whose baseball memorabilia spans at least 35 years of Phillies history. Croce said Beitler's pennants, pins and team yearbooks on display represent only a portion of boxes and boxes of items she left behind.

Part of the inspiration for Croce and his team came from an April 2011 issue of Philadelphia Magazine, and seven panels of blown-up photographs from that particular magazine issue cover parts of two walls in the exhibit. Those photos, taken by Chris Crisman, were published after a contest last year to find the most hardcore fans. Among those featured are "the Raucous fan," "the Forever fan," and "the Super Fan," Noam Yalon, the grand-prize winner, who is pictured with his son and a birth certificate reading, "Chase Luke Ryan Howard Yalon."

Since it opened along with the rest of the newly-renovated museum on Sept. 22, the exhibit has received a very positive response, Croce said. It is set to remain open through the end of the year.

Philadelphia Phillies