LOS ANGELES — Mark Leiter Jr. urged his dad to secure tickets in 2008 when his beloved Phillies reached the playoffs.
Leiter — whose father pitched for the Phillies in the 1990s — used to complete his homework in the clubhouse at Veterans Stadium and grew up in Toms River, N.J. as a diehard Phillies fan. He attended three playoff games during that memorable October, including Game 4 of the World Series.
So consider it a thrill that when Leiter made his major-league debut on Friday night, the second batter he faced was Chase Utley. And an even bigger thrill that Leiter got Utley, one of the heroes of that 2008 team, to fly out to right field in the seventh inning of a 5-3 loss to the Dodgers.
"It was cool. Growing up watching the Phillies, he contributed to a lot of great years," Leiter said. "Any time you can face guys that you watched growing up and rooted for is a pretty cool feeling."
Leiter and his father are just the second father-son duo to play for the Phillies, joining Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ruben Amaro Sr. Leiter joined the Phillies in 2013 as a 22nd-round pick out of NJIT. The 26-year-old defied the odds and pushed his way to the majors after four seasons in the minor leagues.
He was promoted on April 18 when the Phillies were in New York but his debut would have to wait 10 days. The nerves passed by day three, Leiter said. His name was finally called on Friday and Leiter retired each of the three batters he faced, none sweeter than Utley. It was worth the wait.