Amanda M. Cain

Taking you beyond the stadium walls and into the community.

Tag: Philadelphia Phillies

Stadium commemorates those who have served

As spring slowly makes its way in and winter begins its yearly exit, the Reading Fightin Phils are preparing to open their 50th season of affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies. While this season marks a major anniversary for the team, its home, FirstEnergy Stadium, will be entering its 65th season.

FirstEnergy Stadium, located in Reading, PA, has been the home of the Reading Fightin' Phils minor league baseball team since 1967. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

FirstEnergy Stadium, located in Reading, PA, has been the home of the Reading Fightin’ Phils minor league baseball team since 1967. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

Built in 1951 by the Reading City Council the stadium was originally named Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium as a way to honor the men and women who gave their lives protecting our country. Municipal Memorial Stadium was home to minor league baseball in Reading up until 1999 when the stadium was renamed GPU Stadium. As a result of the name change, a statue was erected in front of the stadium to serve as a reminder of the original name of Memorial Stadium.

The home of the Fightins’ officially became known as FirstEnergy Stadium in 2002. The third renaming took place after GPU was acquired by FirstEnergy in 2000.

This memorial to those who have served our country stands outside the entrance to FirstEnergy Stadium as a reminder of those who served and to pay homage to the original name of the ballpark. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

This memorial to those who have served our country stands outside the entrance to FirstEnergy Stadium as a reminder of those who served and to pay homage to the original name of the ballpark. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

The large, silver dog tags have become an iconic image associated with the stadium and serve as a reminder and a permanent memorial to those for whom the stadium was originally named. Engraved with the words “dedicated to all the veterans of our community” the memorial stands as a symbol of what others have given in order for our country to enjoy our freedom to partake in events such as a baseball game.

Erected in front of the stadium, the oversized dog tags are a memorial to those who have served and continue to serve our country everyday and commemorates the original dedication of Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

Erected in front of the stadium, the oversized dog tags are a memorial to those who have served and continue to serve our country every day and commemorates the original dedication of Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

Situated behind the dog tags is the American Flag that flies outside of the stadium. Beginning with the 2014 season the Fightins have honored living and deceased veterans before each home game with the ceremonial flag. This flag is flown outside the stadium by the dog tags during the game and once the game is completed the flag is lowered and given to the family of the honoree. In 2016, active military members will also be eligible for the honor.

The ceremonial American flag flies in front of FirstEnergy Stadium in honor of a veteran or active military member at each home game. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

The ceremonial American flag flies in front of FirstEnergy Stadium in honor of a veteran or active military member at each home game. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

In addition to the ceremonial flag, the Fightins’ fly the flags of each branch of the military at the top of the main grandstand throughout the season.

As another subtle memorial to those who have served, a line of evergreen trees was planted along the brick wall that rings the outside of the stadium. Thousands of fans sit and watch those trees every time a Fightins player hits a home run, but few know what they stand for.

Evergreen trees lining the outer wall of the stadium were planted as a memorial to those who have served our country. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

Evergreen trees lining the outer wall of the stadium were planted as a memorial to those who have served our country. (Photo: Amanda Cain/Full Sail University)

When fans flock to FirstEnergy Stadium this season, the dog tags will greet each and every one as they enter the stadium. Many will sit on the low wall that runs behind the memorial as they wait for friends and family. Few will stop and take a moment to read the engraving and share a thanks for those who have served and continue to serve our country.

This memorial among others, is a small taste of what the Fightins organization does to honor the community is has called home for the last 50 years.

Baseballtown to crown a new king

READING, P.A.- Each winter Baseballtown Charities and the Reading Fightin’ Phils host fans and baseball players alike for the annual Phillies Winter Banquet. While the event is a great night for fans to interact with players from both the major and minor league teams, the evening also includes the crowning of the King of Baseballtown.

The first King of Baseballtown, “Broadway” Charlie Wagner, was crowned in 2003, the year Baseballtown Charities was formed. Since then, there have been 11 kings and one queen crowned in Baseballtown.

Each king and queen has their own special ties both to the sport of baseball and to Baseballtown and the Fightins’. Experience in the sport ranges from coaching at different levels in Reading to playing with the Reading Indians to playing in the majors or in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League.

In an article published on the official Baseballtown site, http://baseballtown.org/baseballtown/kings-queen-baseballtown.html, the organization gives insight into what qualifies someone for the title of King or Queen of Baseballtown.

The article states “The honor of the title King or Queen of Baseballtown is bestowed upon someone who embodies the spirit of the game in Baseballtown at any level of the sport, whether it be as a player, coach, administrator, executive, philanthropist, or ambassador. The King or Queen is someone who has contributed mightily to the game of baseball here in Baseballtown.”

Previous Kings of Baseballtown include Paul “Cooter” Jones, a member of the Reading Indians and coach at Reading High School from 1973-96, Dr. David Q. Voigt, a baseball author, and Kevin Devera, director of the Olivet RBI Baseball Program in Reading.

The lone Queen of Baseballtown was Ruth Hartman, a former member of the All-American Professional Baseball League Fort Wayne Daisies and Racine Belles. Hartman also played amateur ball in Pennsylvania and worked in the Reading School District.

The 2016 Phillies Winter Banquet will take place on Jan. 19 beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Reading Crowne Plaza Hotel. The evening will include a cocktail hour, dinner, a sports auction, prizes, special guests and, of course, the crowning of new Baseballtown royalty. The recipient of this honor has not yet been announced by the team.

If you find yourself looking for a way to get out of your house this winter and want an early taste of spring, go to www.fightins.com and purchase your ticket to the 2016 Winter Banquet. Be there as Baseballtown welcomes its newest king or queen to the realm.

© 2017 Amanda M. Cain

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