A. C. Cain

Finding the major stories in the minor leagues

Tag: Phillies

50 seasons in Reading should not surprise fans

The Reading Fightin’ Phils are gearing up to celebrate 50 Phillies seasons in Reading beginning at the end of March. While the feat is impressive, they currently boast the longest active affiliation in professional baseball, fans should hardly be surprised. If any city deserves to host one of the longest successful minor league franchises, Reading, Pennsylvania is it.

Reading has a long baseball history. The close link between the sport and the city has earned Reading the name of Baseballtown.

The title is well deserved as Reading first hosted a professional baseball team in 1883, and has fielded a team for 109 baseball seasons. The Reading Actives were an independent team, which played in the Interstate Association. Reading hosted various teams over the next 20 years, rarely facing a baseball season without a team. Prominent teams include the Reading Coal Heavers, the Reading Aces, the Reading Pretzels, the Reading Coal Barons, and the Reading Marines.

Despite always having a team, the independent teams were constantly moving and shifting with no team remaining in Reading for more than four or five years at a time.

That changed in 1923 when the Reading Keystones, a double-A team playing in the International League, came to town. The Keystones stuck with the city for 10 years, before calling it quits after the 1932 season.


A history of baseball in Reading, Pennsylvania beginning in 1933, the year the city first acquired a major league affiliation. Infographic designed by Ariane Cain. Image created at easel.ly. Data gathered from Baseball-Reference.com. Logos gathered from sportslogos.net

Somewhere in these 10 seasons, the small baseball-loving city caught the eye of Major League Baseball, and in 1933 the Boston Red Sox brought their single-A team, the Reading Red Sox, to the city. The Reading Red Sox played in the New York-Pennsylvania League, which later became the Eastern League, the league the team still plays in today.

Boston was unable to create a successful franchise in the city, and the affiliation lasted only 2 seasons.

In 1935, after Boston left, the Brooklyn Dodgers decided to test their luck in Reading, and introduced the Reading Brooks.

After one season of poorly attended games, the Dodgers moved their franchise elsewhere and Reading was left without a baseball team for 4 years.

In 1940, desperate for baseball, the city once again hosted an independent team, this time the Reading Chicks took the field. The determination of the Reading fans caught the attention of the Dodgers, and, determined to create a successful franchise in the city, they returned with the Reading Brooks. Once again the team only lasted one season before abandoning the city.

Reading fans were left without baseball for 10 years, until the Cleveland Indians came to town and introduced the Reading Indians, another single-A club.

Cleveland fared better than its Major League predecessors, and the team remained in the city for 10 years, playing its final season in 1961.

In 1963 Boston attempted to be successful in the city once again, and returned with the Reading Red Sox. This time, however, the team was a double-A team, giving the fans a slightly higher level of baseball to watch.

The Red Sox lasted 2 seasons before leaving, and in 1965 fans welcomed the Reading Indians again, a double-A team this time, hoping that the teams previous success would be replicated.

Unfortunately, the Reading Indians only remained in the city for one season before Cleveland decided to move their team elsewhere.

This opened the door for the Philadelphia Phillies. Inspired by the geographical closeness of the two cities, the Phillies decided to give Reading a try, and in 1967 the Reading Phillies were born.

Fans were, by this time, used to the ever-changing series of teams and affiliations running through the city, so no one expected the affiliation to last.

The Phillies somehow managed to figure out something that the other clubs missed, however, and the affiliation is now preparing to enter its 50th season. For many of those seasons the Reading Phillies have led the Eastern League in attendance.

In 2013 the team was rebranded as the Reading Fightin’ Phils in an attempt to create an identity that differed from the parent club, but the affiliation has remained as close and successful as ever.

Fightin’ Phils invite fans to help celebrate 50 seasons in Reading

The Reading Fightin’ Phils are preparing to celebrate their 50th season of affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies, and they are inviting fans to join the action.

The 50th season officially starts in April 2016, but fans don’t have to wait for the excitement.

In a time when minor league teams are frequently switching parent club affiliations, 50 years is a relationship to be proud of. In the 114-year history of Minor League Baseball, only 3 teams have reached the 50-year mark. The affiliation is the longest current affiliation in professional baseball, and only 3 years shy of the all-time longest affiliation mark. The Bluefield Orioles were affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles for 53 years.

The Fightin's "50 Seasons in Reading" logo Photo from www.fightins.com

The Fightin’s “50 Seasons in Reading” logo
Photo from www.fightins.com

The Fightin’s will spend all season commemorating the relationship between the two teams, and recently unveiled the logo that will be used to represent the historic season. The “50 Seasons in Reading” logo will be visible throughout the ballpark and on merchandise during the upcoming season. The logo was designed by Fightin’ Phils Director of Graphic Arts Matt Jackson and Brandiose, which is based in San Diego, California.

The Fightin’s are asking fans to help with the celebration by selecting the 50 greatest players to have played in Reading. In a city that has watched countless great players come through, including the cores of two World Series Champion Philadelphia teams, fans will have a tough decision to make.

Fans will have to choose from all-time greats such as Robin Roberts and Ryne Sandberg, hometown favorites such as Darin Ruf, Ken Giles, and Mike Spidale, and Philadelphia heroes such as Jimmy Rollins, Darin Daulton, Pat Burrell, Cole Hamels, Ryan Howard and many more. Currently Philadelphia favorite Mike Schmidt is leading the voting.

The top prospects expected to begin the season in Reading will also be an integral part of the 50th season. Fans will have the opportunity to see the core of the next great Philadelphia team play every night. Reading is giving fans a chance to celebrate the past while watching the future.

The 50th season officially begins on March 31st with the Phillies Future game, an exhibition featuring the organizations top prospects facing-off with the major league team.

Reading fans will then get to see many of those same prospects compete in the 222 Showcase, the annual exhibition game between the Fightin’s and the AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs, on April 5.

The Fightin’ Phils will play their home opener of the 2016 season on April 7 against the Portland Sea Dogs, AA affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

Season tickets, mini-plans, group tickets and individual game tickets are now available at fightins.com. The Fightin’s “Cheaper by the Dozen” ticket books are also available, and make a great stocking stuffer for the Phillies or baseball fan on your list. Each book contains 12 general admission tickets good for any game throughout the 2016 season, as well as two tickets for opening night. The general admission tickets can be upgraded to reserved seats at any time throughout the season.

Baseball season may seem far away, but Fightin’s fans can already get involved and begin to celebrate 50 seasons in Reading!

Phillies top prospect lists promise another bright season in Reading

As most of the world enters the holiday season and the long winter months ahead, the baseball world enters the free agent season: a time of big free agent signings and huge deals that find key players switching from one team to another in the blink of an eye.

While this time is filled with excitement for major league fans, minor league fans can find themselves saying goodbye to fan favorites that they have watched develop and are now whisked away as an added bonus in a deal. An exciting season for some can be a depressing season for others.

Fans of the Reading Fightin’ Phils, double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, probably don’t have much to worry about this offseason.

The Philadelphia Phillies are in the midst of a rebuild in their organization, making them unlikely to trade any high caliber minor league players that could provide help in the majors later down the road. Reading’s roster was packed with top prospects last year, and this year looks to be filled with more.

Baseball America recently released its annual top prospects list for each organization, and the Phillies looked much like many fans expected. Five of the top ten prospects, J.P. Crawford, Nick Williams, Jake Thompson, Andrew Knapp and Roman Quinn, were all part of Reading’s team last season and had a successful season that ended in the championship series.

While many of them may be moving up to triple-A this season, the Phillies system is stocked with talent to fill the gaps in Reading’s roster. Roman Quinn, number 8 on the list, missed the majority of the 2015 season with a groin injury and will probably need another season at double-A, where he is sure to light up the stadium and the base paths. Jorge Alfaro, a catcher acquired in a late-season trade and ranked at 5 on the list, finished the season at single-A and may be moving up to double-A in the coming season.

A look at mlb.com’s prospect watch shows the Phillies top 30 prospects, many of whom were playing at double A or lower last season. As these young players move up toward the majors Reading’s roster, and fans, will benefit.

Brock Stassi, one of the Fightin’s top players from last season and the Eastern League MVP, does not even make the top prospect lists. When one of the team’s best players doesn’t even rank in the organizations top 30, the talent behind him is something to keep an eye on.

Recognizing the quality of their farm system, the Phillies have recently announced a treat for fans. This season will feature the first ever Phillies Future game; a game where all of the top prospects in the organization will face-off against the major league team. In honor of 50 years of affiliation between Reading and Philadelphia, the Fightin’s will host the game on March 31, giving their fans the rare opportunity to see the top prospects and the major league players up close.

While the holiday stress mounts and the weather grows colder, Reading fans can look forward to another bright, exciting and hopefully successful season of baseball with all of the young stars of the future Phillies.

To purchase tickets for the 2016 Fightin’ Phils season, or for more information on the Phillies Future Game, visit www.fightins.com.

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