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Astros’ Justin Verlander meets Phillies fan who flipped him the bird: ‘He had a great sense of humor’


Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander was caught flipping the bird after being shown it by a Phillies fan as the team bus pulled into Citizens Bank Park ahead of Game 3 of the World Series on Monday evening.

With the game pushed back to Tuesday night due to bad weather, Stephanie Di Ianni, a longtime Phillies fan from Egg Harbor Township, NJ, returned to that location when the Astros bus pulled up in the parking lot to doing the exact same thing, and Verlander loved it.

He liked it so much that he walked over to Di Ianni after getting off the bus this time.

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Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander gives a thumbs up with Phillies fan Stephanie Di Ianni before Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Stephanie DiIanni)

“Yesterday when the Astros bus was coming into Citizens Bank Park, I was playing, giving the finger to the whole bus and JV was just the one who saw it, so he played along and gave it back to me,” Di Ianni told Fox News Digital. “Then it all happened again when he got off the bus. I called his name, waved, then gave him the bird back.

“So today I went to the same place at the same time and he immediately recognized me through the bus window and started laughing. Then when he got off the bus he had a big smile on his face. face and he walked up to me and signed a ball for me and posed for some pictures.

JUSTIN VERLANDER ON TURNING THE BIRD TO PHILLIES FANS: ‘I’M JUST SAYING HELLO IN THEIR NATURAL LANGUAGE’

“He was super cool about it, he was also the one who initiated the photos and he had a great sense of humor with it.”

Verlander told reporters he was “saying hello in their native language” when explaining the initial video, which appeared the gesture was rude. Returning the bird to someone usually is. But neither Verlander, nor Di Ianni and other Phillies fans were offended.

Phillies fan Stephanie Di Ianni poses with a signed Justin Verlander baseball before Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Phillies fan Stephanie Di Ianni poses with a signed Justin Verlander baseball before Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Stephanie DiIanni)

In fact, Di Ianni said it was Verlander’s first instinct to flip the bird over again for one of the images. He even signed a fly ball for Di Ianni before heading to the ballpark.

“Honestly, I was just enjoying the moment as a typical Philadelphia fan and the fact that he was able to take it and serve it made it even better,” Di Ianni said. “And the fact that he got off the bus and came up to me shows what kind of person he is. He was all smiles.”

Now don’t get me wrong: Di Ianni doesn’t want Verlander to succeed on the pitch. That’s what the bird was for, as she hopes her Phillies earn their first World Series win since 2008.

Although manager Dusty Baker has yet to make the decision publicly, Verlander is expected to kick off Game 5 at Citizens Bank Park on Thursday night. He was hit hard for five runs in Game 1 which resulted in a loss despite his offense picking him up and sending the game to 10 innings. Phillies’ JT Realmuto hit a solo home run to win the game, 6-5, in the end.

Di Ianni respects the veteran right-hander for his playful banter and hand gestures in this World Series game, but there will be more to The Bank than her rooting against Verlander for real when he receives the ball.

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and Phillies fan Stephanie Di Ianni flip the bird during interaction before Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Houston Astros pitcher Justin Verlander and Phillies fan Stephanie Di Ianni flip the bird during interaction before Game 3 of the World Series in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
(Stephanie DiIanni)

“I think all of Philly is going to be electric and go after him, naturally,” she said. “I don’t know if he’s ready to handle the Philadelphia crowd, so it’s definitely going to be a good game for both teams.”

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The Phillies blasted the Astros in Game 3, 7-0, behind five homers, including a two-run bomb from Bryce Harper, to take a 2-1 best-of-five series lead.

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