It brought a big smile to my face when I found out Stephanie Di Ianni was the woman in Philadelphia responsible for flipping off Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander outside the Phillies stadium.

You see, Di Ianni, from Egg Harbor Township, is a baseball lifer.

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By that I mean, she grew up in a baseball family, and probably attended way more baseball games than she can even count.

It's actually hard for me to describe Stephanie as a woman -  because for me she's forever the little sister who followed her big brother around to countless baseball games, practices, and tournaments.

Stephanie's brother, Michael Di Ianni, grew up playing youth baseball with my own son. Mike Di Ianni started out as a 5 or 6-year-old playing tee ball then moved onto rec ball and travel baseball. He was a star pitcher at Holy Spirit High School and eventually went on to play and coach in college.

And, like a lot of baseball younger brothers and sisters, young Stephanie followed. From town to town, state to state. Sitting in the bleachers, playing at the nearest swingset, making friends with young sisters and brothers from other teams.

When you go to that many games, the game of baseball rubs off on you. Without knowing it, you too fall in love with the game.

Heck, I remember "little" Stephanie even being drafted into service at the snack stand in Port Republic for the Ed Hayes-coached South Jersey Sand Sharks.

In her own right, Steph became quite an athlete: a champion rower at Holy Spirit High, then Jacksonville University.

So, again, it brought a smile to my face to find out that Steph was the one who threw up the "Philly salute" that caught the attention of Houston Astros all-star pitcher Justin Verlander.

If you are new to the story, Steph jokingly flipped off the Astros bus as it pulled into the Phillies stadium parking lot Monday. Her salute was followed up by a return salute from the Astros pitcher.


What a great story! Steph, you've always been the super-cool kid. Justin, we hate you, but you're all right.... (Since you're a free agent, we might even like you in a Philly uniform next summer.

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