After more than 3 hours, the 90-minute parade had reached the sports complex. I cannot imagine anything bigger, louder, or more fun. Walking along much of the route, riding along in a media bus in the later stages, the crowds were enormous and just so obviously happy. Whoever does the crowd estimates should take their best guess and then double it.
And Pat Burrell led them in.
The first Phillies presence in the parade was Burrell, along with his wife and his dog, perched on the front of a Budweiser beer wagon pulled by Clydesdales. He isn't their best player and he isn't their most-popular player, but it seems as if he has been here forever. In what might very well have been his last at-bat with the team, with free-agency looming, he banged that double off of the wall in left-centerfield in the seventh inning of Game 5, setting up the go-ahead run.
After the game, he knew it might have been his last swing. In the clubhouse, he said, "We play in a tough-ass town to play in, and I'm proud of that. I'm proud to say I played here. I'm behind this city because of the fact that they were behind me. To be able to hand this over to him, it's going to be good...
"Who knows what's going to happen. It's going to be hard for me to walk out of this town. But ultimately, that decision is not going to be up to me."
But that is for later. What we know for sure is that the double off of the wall was not Burrell's last act. Leading them home was.