With football season drawing to a close and spring training just around the corner, the Reading Fightin’ Phils are preparing to crown the newest King of Baseballtown at the annual winter banquet. The honoree for the 2016 season is Kutztown University baseball coach Chris Blum. As Blum prepares to accept his new title, the baseball history of past kings becomes a topic of conversation.
When looking at the previous kings of Baseballtown for the past 15 years, there are three major information points in each persons’ background that stand out. The infographic below takes these three points, Major League playing experience, coaching and managing experience, and playing experience in Reading, and compares the backgrounds of five previous kings.
Major League playing experience would be considered by most to be a major component in choosing the face of an organization for a year. When looking at these past five kings, only three of the five played Major League Baseball.
Dick Gernert, the 2005 king, had the most experience with 11 years. Gernert played for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, Detroit Tigers, Cincinnati Reds, and Houston Colt .45s. The 2003 king “Broadway” Charlie Wagner played for the Boston Red Sox and Carl Mathias played for the Cleveland Indians and Washington Senators on his way to becoming the 2010 King of Baseballtown.
Gernert spent 10 years playing both professional and recreational baseball in Reading before and after his major league career, while Wagner played recreational ball for 10 years before signing with the Red Sox. Mathias spent five years playing recreational baseball in Reading prior to his professional career.
The final category of the infographic looks at baseball from the coaching side and is the only category in which the 2015 king, Kevin Devera, makes an appearance. While Devera never played professionally, he has had a major impact on baseball in the Reading community as the director of the Olivet RBI Baseball Program, part of the Olivet Boys and Girls Clubs of Reading.
For the past 11 years, Devera has brought the sport of baseball to inner city kids and helped them to learn to love the game and pursue the sport throughout high school and college.
Wagner spent 44 years after his professional career working as both a pitching instructor and scout for the Boston Red Sox. Flannery spent 31 years coaching with Gregg Post American Legion. Gernert spent two years managing and coaching for various minor league organizations after his professional career ended.
There are a variety of different aspects that go into choosing a king or queen of Baseballtown, but baseball experience plays a large part. Each of the kings of the past have either played professionally or recreationally, or coached some aspect of the game. The above infographic provides a visual presentation of this information for a small portion of previous kings.
It will be interesting to look back 10 years down the road and make more comparisons to see how baseball experience continues to impact the crowning of kings in the future.