Amanda M. Cain

Taking you beyond the stadium walls and into the community.

Tag: ReadingFightins

Employees return to FirstEnergy Stadium for 2016 season

 

FirstEnergy Stadium opened its gates on Saturday, March 19, as the Reading Fightin’ Phils welcomed both returning and new employees. Bundled against the cool temperatures, everyone arrived for the annual employee orientation in preparation for the 2016 season.

Every Season the Fightins see a multitude of returning employees and this season looks to continue that trend.

From ticket takers to ushers and security guards to concessions workers, employees continue to come back to Baseballtown every year. For some, it’s a second job while for others it’s an opportunity to get out of the house during retirement.

No matter what the reason is, employees return year after year after year. With so many returning employees, the Fightins created a way to honor those who stay with the organization for a minimum of 10 years.

The wall just inside the employee entrance is filled with rows of small, gold plaques honoring the members of the Fightins’ Employee Honor Roll. At the end of the 2016 season a new group of plaques will find their way to that wall.

Each employee who works at FirstEnergy Stadium has their own reasons for returning each year.

“This is my fun job. I just like to come out and see everyone,” said Amy Cengeri, a Fightins’ diamond girl who will be working her 13th season in 2016. “Everyone that works here is kind of like one big family.”

Everyone working at the ballpark, from the general manager to the newest member of the clean team, knows that every job counts in giving the fans the best experience they can. It is this mentality that creates a strong family atmosphere between employees and fans alike and is a large part of what keeps employees coming back each season.

Looking back on past kings

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.

KingsofBaseballtown

Infographic created by Amanda Cain. Image created at http://www.easel.ly/. Numerical information retrieved from http://www.baseballtown.org/

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.

While Charlie Flannery (2014) never played Major League Baseball, he does have the most experience out of the five playing in Reading with 12 years of recreational baseball.

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.

© 2017 Amanda M. Cain

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