PHILADELPHIA — Jeff Singer will have plenty of time in the future to reflect on his journey to Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday.
But on this beautiful spring evening, he sat in the Phillies’ dugout and just kept saying how he wanted to savor the moment and enjoy the experience. Singer, 28, was promoted from Triple-A Lehigh Valley because closer Corey Knebel was placed on the COVID-19 injured list. It fulfilled not only an improbable, but a lifelong dream.
“Every year, going down to Spring Training, I think about that,” Singer said. “Right now, I’m just really thinking about the moment. I’m just kind of a little shook right now, just enjoying it. I’m just really happy to be here.”
Singer was born in Northeast Philadelphia, but he grew up in South Jersey. He graduated from Holy Cross High School and pitched at Division III Rutgers-Camden. He pitched in the Rancocas Valley League, but his baseball career seemed to be coming to a close before he signed with the independent Camden Riversharks in 2015. He impressed, but success was hardly guaranteed. He was working with his father at a car dealership in Northeast Philadelphia in 2016, when he signed with the Phillies.
He has been pitching in the Phillies’ system ever since.
“I don’t really know what to say,” Singer said. “Just excited. I’m going to have a lot of friends and family here. We’re all really excited right now. It’s going to be a fun experience.”
Singer estimated he might have 40-50 people at the game, including former teammates from the RVL.
“It’s going to be a fun day,” he said. “Hopefully, we just enjoy it and just really take advantage of today.”
Singer said he called his fiancée when he first got the news on Tuesday morning. Then, he called his father, Mark Singer. He asked his dad what he was doing on Tuesday night. He told him that he should come to the Phillies game because he will be there.
“It caught him off guard,” Singer said. “He paused a little bit. He’s like, ‘Are you serious?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah.’ It seems like everyone I’m telling, they’re thinking I’m joking.”
Singer attended a few games at Veterans Stadium as a young kid. He attended so many more at the Bank.
Singer started pointing at different sections of the ballpark where he used to sit.
“At the car dealership, the guys always got good tickets,” he said. “We’d always have either the Diamond Club, we’d be [on the] first-base side. I sat in those nosebleeds up there. It’s been great. I come here a lot. Me and my friends used to come here a lot as kids, so I’m really happy right now.”
His friends came on Tuesday to see him in the bullpen. He wore No. 73.
“That was the dream,” Singer said. “As soon as I signed that contract, that was the goal to get here. It’s something I’ve been waiting for. Not just for the last seven years, but ever since I picked up a baseball.”