Game time for the Phillies' 135th home opener was scheduled for 3:05 p.m., but the diehards got to Citizens Bank Park a whole lot earlier.
The Phillies may play 81 home games each year, but the first is always special.
"Tradition," said Buzz Jackson of Williamstown, NJ, when asked what drew him to the opener. "Tradition and the fun."
The temperature was in the high 40's, but a 20 mile-an-hour wind made it feel much colder.
Not to worry. A few hot sausages on the grill and a few dozen layers of clothing, and all was well.
"Right now, you get to be cold you get to bundle up around your grill, said Lauren Kraynak of Phoenixville, PA. "But we have a lot of fun while we wait for the Phillies to play!"
A Ferris wheel and street fair outside the park got folks in the right frame of mind. Philadelphia's notoriously tough fans are in a forgiving mood at the start of the season.
"It's opening day, said Michele Serad of Lindenwold, NJ. "So...face painting, the party, the boys. The boys are back in town."
And those who got there early to watch batting practice, and soak up the atmosphere in a still-mostly empty ballpark, spoke of the feeling they get when the season lies ahead and all things seem possible.
"Opening Day is like nothing else with the Phillies," said Pat Keith as she settled into her seat next to her grandson Landon. "The excitement is different, the crowds are different, the fanfare is different. It's exciting. You can feel it in the air!"
The experts don't expect much from the 2017 Phillies; .500 ball at best.
At the home opener the Phillies lost to the Washington Nationals. The final score was 7-6.
But there are 158 games left to be played. And hope springs eternal.