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11-year-old celebrating birthday at Phillies' ballpark surprised with swag, great seats

Philadelphia Phillies 3 millionth fan milestone
Philadelphia Phillies 3 millionth fan milestone 02:24

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Citizens Bank Park has some of the best attendance in baseball, and millions have walked through the gates during the regular season.

But one feat that hasn't been accomplished at the Phillies' ballpark in 10 years? Three million fans walking through the gates.

RELATED: Phillies clinch NL wild-card berth, head to postseason for second straight year

With a few regular season games still to go in 2023, the Willson family from Willow Grove, Pa. were the 3 millionth fans to come to the ballpark this season on Wednesday.

It was a perfect 11th birthday for Ryan Willson, who got to see a win over the Pirates, 7-6, on top of the multiple surprises from his favorite team.

"It's a family friendly environment and we love being down here," said Ryan's dad, Kevin Willson.

"I've never seen so many cameras," said mom Valerie Willson. "This is amazing, the Phillie Phanatic has never gotten so close."

John Weber, the Phillies' senior vice president of ticket operations and projects, shared how he felt seeing the joy on the Willsons' faces when the Phillies surprised them with upgraded seats, swag bags and more.

"It's really what's so great about working in sports," Weber said. "You're able to make those magical moments for your fans."


Ryan was feeling the magic.

"Best birthday of all time," Ryan said.

Kyle and Ryan Willson take in the view from their free upgraded seats at Citizens Bank Park on Sept. 27. The Willson family, from Willow Grove, were the 3 millionth fans through the ballpark gates this year. CBS News Philadelphia

The seats were only a few rows behind home plate.

"These are the most amazing seats," Kevin Willson said. "I've never sat this close to the field. I feel like we're famous now." 

"I've never experienced something like this and this might be one of the best things ever," Ryan said.

Kyle Willson pointed up to the nosebleeds, below the shining ballpark lights.

"I thought we were going to be up there," he said.

The Sept. 27 game is one the Willsons will never forget. 

And by the way, team owner John Middleton gifted them tickets to next week's playoff opener. 

It all signifies the enduring relationship between the Phillies and their diehard, loyal fanbase.

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