Veterans’ Stadium, the Vet, the Octorad, the dump, was notable for it’s awfulness. But, perhaps, it should be notable for another reason, too. While it had a transient population as high as 70,000, like most stadiums, it didn’t have a permanent population.
Or so we thought.
In The Secret Apartment: Vet Stadium, a surreal memoir, Tom Garvey explains that he, in fact, lived at the Vet from October 1979 to December 1981, in a hidden ramshackle apartment he had built out of a disused concession stand.
I’ll pause here and let you re-read that last paragraph. That’s right. Veterans’ Stadium: population 1.
Garvey’s uncles ran Nilon Brothers, a Philly-area concessionaire, and basically invented the modern stadium food vendor. In 1977, they took over operations of the Vet parking lots, and hired Garvey. Running the lots gave him an office and a key to the building, and then he discovered the closed stand, under section 354, just above the visiting bullpen.
The stand was a 30’ by 60’ rectangle with a 16’ sloped ceiling and no windows, but it did have running water and a telephone. Garvey lined the concouse-facing wall with cardboard boxed full of old parking tickets to make it hidden from view, and changed the lock on the door. Perfect.
From watching games at 3AM in his bathrobe and slippers to passing out on the field before being woken up by a security guard, Garvey has no shortage of crazy stories. His job came with a golf cart and a pickup truck, both of which were stored in a garage, so he had free reign to come and go as he pleased.
He once collided with Dick Vermeil in an elevator while rollerskating around the 100-level, scattering the coach’s film all over. Because why not.
This is not a well-written book, it’s not going to win any awards. But damn if it isn’t a fun and insane story. I give it four disused concession stand apartments out of five.
The Secret Apartment: Vet Stadium, a surreal memoir is available on Amazon for $14.99, and probably elsewhere. It’s worth the read.
Please let me know in the comments or on twitter what other books are worth reviewing here. I have the next couple lined up already, but I intend to keep this series going for a while, so hit me up!