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This guy knows the score

The Baltimore Sun

GLEN ROCK, PA. - When Bob Bogart married in 1989, his streak was in its infancy, about 500 games.

His new bride couldn't have known it would keep going, that it would last 19 more years and counting, that it would be acknowledged by his heroes.

Still, Lauri Bogart said she wasn't blindsided.

"It's pretty obvious when you are around him," she said. "You know there is something else on his mind all the time, even in the offseason.

"And all these people keep giving him attention for being nuts."

According to his wife, "he is a sick man."

It's because of the Philadelphia Phillies, who face the Tampa Bay Rays tonight in Game 1 of the World Series, their first appearance in the October Classic in 15 years.

Bogart, 47, a mathematician for the U.S. Department of Defense in Fort Meade, is a Phillies partial season-ticket holder and has seats for Game 5 in Philadelphia.

His fandom goes a bit further, though.

Since Aug. 8, 1986, Bogart has kept score of every Phillies regular-season game. In all but the rarest instances, he has watched or listened live and methodically recorded each out, each hit, each run as they occurred.

For the record, that's 3,554 straight contests. Sort of makes Orioles great Cal Ripken Jr.'s consecutive-games-played streak of 2,632 seem a little light.

Bogart doesn't include spring training or the postseason in his total.

"Cal didn't count them in his streak, so I am not counting them in mine."

Logistically, his streak seems more improbable than Ripken's. For one, Bogart has that pesky day job with the federal government, one that includes a 65-mile, one-way trip from his home in York County, just over the Mason-Dixon Line.

What happens when the Phillies are on the West Coast?

Well, he takes a nap when he gets home and then stays up after midnight. Sometimes, he arranges it so he can go in late to work.

"I'd be in bed wide awake if they were playing and I didn't know what was going on, anyway," he said.

For day games, he takes a half or full day off. And for family trips outside the Phillies' viewing or listening area?

"All of our vacations are planned around the Phillies' schedule," Lauri Bogart, said. "We've gone all around the country and in Canada all at the same time as the Phillies or when they aren't playing."

Years ago, they would visit Lauri's family in suburban Chicago only when the Cubs or Milwaukee Brewers were playing the Phillies - so that the radio or TV broadcast was readily available and the streak survived.

There have been a handful of times during the past 22 years in which Bogart couldn't catch a live game, so he taped it, ignored any information about the results and then scored it - as if it were live - as soon as he got home. Recent technology, though, has aided him in maintaining the streak. He has DirecTV's baseball package, XM Radio, which broadcasts all major league games, and Internet radio access.

"It's almost like cheating now," he joked.

There were some close calls over the years, such as in the late 1990s when he was driving to the Midwest and settled in Ohio to listen to a Phillies-Pittsburgh Pirates game. A local signal, however, overpowered the Pittsburgh flagship station, and for a few minutes before the first pitch he methodically tuned the hotel radio in a panic until discovering the game on another small station.

Then, three years ago, the government had the nerve to send him to England for a May training session. He scheduled his flight so it wouldn't conflict with the Phillies.

"My score book rode all the way to England," he joked.

Because of the five-hour time difference, he had to go to sleep after dinner in England, set the alarm for midnight and then listen over the Internet until the early-morning hours. He invited his fellow travelers to join him, but no one did.

The fanaticism isn't lost on the Phillies. In 2000, Bogart was named one of 10 club super fans of the previous century and received a jersey at an on-field ceremony.

Like Ripken, Bogart said his streak wasn't something he sought out to do. He was 5 when he attended his first Phillies game at Connie Mack Stadium. By 7, he was scoring games with his grandfather. When he was in high school, he thought it would be fun to do an entire baseball season and keep the score book.

One year turned into another, and he had a little streak of a few hundred games going into Aug. 7, 1986, when a drive to the Midwest conflicted with a Phillies day game. He missed that one, and then started the current streak.

Now, his Phillies are in the World Series for the first time since 1993 and the sixth time in a 125-year history riddled with losses and disappointment.

Maybe that's why his wife has accepted Bogart's obsession with good humor. She's a long-suffering Cubs fan. She knows what it means to love bad baseball. And she still gets the upper hand on important decisions. Their son is named Ryne Michael - after Cubs Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg first and then Phillies Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt.

So she has put up with the craziness and the scheduling nightmares for the past two decades. It has become the norm in the Bogart household.

"At least I always know where he is," Lauri Bogart said. "Whenever the Phillies are playing, he'll be home, watching TV. And we just work around it."

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