For fan of Barker, price was just right

Published June 8, 2007

Some of Philip Barrett's best childhood memories revolve around his grandparents.

And price tags, ticking clocks and yodeling mountain climbers. Oh, yeah, and one nattily attired game show host he grew to admire.

Barrett, now of Brandon, never missed a chance to sit in his grandparents' Beaver Falls, Pa., home and watch The Price Is Right. As a tyke, his parents would drop him off before going to work, and the three of them played along with contestants as they struggled to come up with the right price.

Even when his parents were home, he went to Milton and Elizabeth Martini's home and watched Bob Barker on an old television with no remote and no cable. They loved the Clock Game, Check Game and Penny-Ante.

And they loved Barker.

"Even to this day, I love watching it," Barrett said Wednesday night from Los Angeles.

Now 24, Barrett's fondness for Barker carries on in ways you can't imagine. On Wednesday, Barrett and his wife capped off a dream vacation by watching Barker end his 35-year run on The Price Is Right at CBS Television City.

It took a lot for the Barretts to reach game show nirvana: understanding bosses at the River of Tampa Bay church, who gave him and his wife time off; plane tickets to California; show tickets from a friend in San Diego.

And four days of camping out in line because CBS always sends out more tickets than the 325-seat studio can accommodate.

But wait, there's more.

When former WRBQ-FM 104.7 personality Rich Fields started the show by calling audience members to "Contestants Row," guess who was the third person invited to come on down?

"When I saw the cue card with my name on it, I lost it," Barrett said. "I just totally lost it."

We won't spoil the outcome for those planning to watch the final episode on June 15, but Barrett conceded his emotions ran so high he struggled.

"I was totally out of my pricing element," Barrett said. "When you're home, you watch contestants and think, 'What are you thinking?' But when it's you, it's tough."

Barrett, however, said he didn't care about the prices. The joy of meeting Barker was more than enough for him. During commercial breaks, he thanked Barker for being there for 35 years, and told him how much he loves him. Barker responded in kind.

"The Price Is Right dream is to go from just watching the show every day like a normal person to all of sudden you're in line and then you hear you're name being called," said Barrett, who directs television broadcasts for the River. "If something is important to you, the Lord wants to bless you with that simply because he loves you."

After the show, Barrett called his grandparents. His grandmother almost started crying as she alerted other family members about Barrett's great day. As he listened to their excitement, he knew for certain the price for his dream-fulfilling moment indeed was right.

That's all I'm saying.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this column.