A Trip to Baseballtown – Reading Phillies (AA) (6/14/09)

Tim and I have racked up a lot of miles this season taking day-trips on the weekends to MLB games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington D.C., and New York.  Those trips range between 1.5 to 3 hours one way.  What we had not done, however, was take the 10 minute drive to see our local minor league squad, the (AA) Reading Phillies.  Today was the day.

Anyone looking for an authentic Minor League experience — a slice of Americana — head on over to Reading, Pennsylvania to check out the R-Phils at First Energy Stadium.  And you can’t beat the prices — $8 for a General Admission ticket and free for kids 4-and-under.

I picked this game for several reasons:  (i) we didn’t have a MLB game planned for the weekend, (ii) it was Kids Run the Bases day, and (iii) I wanted the Camo R-Phils hat they were giving away to the first 2,500 adults.

Unfortunately, when we entered the stadium, the hats were all gone.  So, hatless, we walked through the concourse and to the Coors Light Left Field Deck.  Out by the deck, there is a special entrance for partyn deck folks.  I noticed that they had TWO hats left.  I talked one of the girls into giving me one of them.  I like it:

r-phils camo.JPG

We started the game by picking up some french fries and two dollar-dogs and heading to the trough in left field (that’s what I call it, not sure if it has a real name):

fries in outfield trough.JPG

This would be a pretty sweet place to catch a home run.  Unfortunately, I’ve never seen one hit to LF while I’ve been in the trough.

Behind the trough there is an elevated picnic area with lots of tables and private boxes.

Here is the view from the trough:

r-phils LF panoramic.jpg

Here is a closer look:

r-phils infield panoramic.jpg

Tim likes the trough because its like a big straight away made for racing.  Plus, it conveniently has a “finish line” painted at one end:

tim in trough.JPG

Why do you think they painted the yellow line across the floor in the trough?  I can’t see that line ever coming into play.  You can’t see it from the field.   Its out of the sight of any TV cameras.  Plus, the ball is either fair or foul when it crosses the top of the fence — it is irrelevant whether a ball lands on the fair or foul side of the line on the deck behind the fence.  I think its only real utility is as a finish line for Tim to use for racing me in the trough.

So the whole LF areas is a big deck.  What, you ask, is in RF?  A little swiming pool (above the Power Ball sign):

RF pool and pagoda.JPG

Why, you ask, is there a traditional Japanese pagoda on the hill in Reading, PA?  The Answer:  your guess is as good as mine.  There just is.

Here is the scoreboard in CF:

r-phils scoreboard.JPG Now, you might be wondering why it is the 10th inning and it still looks like 1:05 in the afternoon.  Well, the game from Saturday night was suspended due to rain with a 1-1 tie score.  So we had to finish that game (2-1 loss in 11 innings) and wait for crew to prep the  field before the regularly scheduled game started.

It was nice to get some bonus baseball, but the delay ultimately proved to be too much for young tired Tim.  Plus, it skewed his game schedule like nobody’s business.  We ended up getting his ice cream helmet before the game even started — real chocolate ice cream with sprinkles:

r-phils ice cream helmet.JPG

This picture shows Tim eating his ice cream “in the shade” as he requested.  We were in the back row of the grandstand.

The regularly scheduled Sunday game finally got going at 2:20.  I took a couple panoramics of the field:

r-phils home panoramic.jpg

And Tim did some smiling and pointing:

r-phils pionting tim.jpg

…and we took more panoramics:

r-phils home2 panoramic.jpg

Then we took to our feet and got some action shots — here is Phils top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek:

kyle drabek.JPG

. . . and here is some Harrisburg Senators (AA Expos…oops, Nationals) dude getting blown away by a high fastball from Drabek (with one of the R-Phils’ many mascots watching on):

blooper cheers.JPGWe walked through the concourse.  This is real minor league ball, so the dugout doesn’t connect to the club house.  The players have to walk through the concourse with the fans to get to the clubhouse:

clubhouse walk.JPGKids were having lots of fun in the open air concourse behind the seats down the 1B line: 

r-phils 1B concourse.JPGI’d never realized that there is standing room at the top of the grandstand and a walkway that runs behind the pressbox from one side of home plate to the other.  Tim liked running back and forth back there.  Here is a plaque on the wall by the press box:

broadway charlie wagner.JPGAs you can see from the plaque, “Broadway” Charlie Wagner played for the Red Sox.  He was also Ted Williams’s roommate back in the day.  And he was a regular at Reading Phillies games until he passed away in 2006.

How about another action shot?

michael taylor.JPGThis is Michael Taylor.  The little program guide said that in May Taylor was named Phillies Minor League Player of the Month for the third consecutive month.  I looked up Taylor’s stats on MiLB.com from last season and he hit .346 with 19 HR and 88 RBI.  So far this season, he is hitting .332 wiith 10 HR and 42 RBI.  Not too shabby.  Watch for him in a MLB park near you in the future.

Finally, we took in all of the zaney on-field entertainment that you get with minor league baseball:

MiLB entertainment.JPG

Now, here is the interesting thing I learned today.  Sometimes, it can actually be easier to drive 100+ miles to a game.  I really wanted to go to this game because it was Kids Run the Bases day.  We love Kids Run the Bases day.  However, when we go to Sunday games in Philadelphia, Baltimore, New York or D.C., Tim naps in the car on the way to the game.  However, with only a 10 minute drive to the park today, we were going with no nap.  Add in the extra 2 innings played at the beginning of the day from the rain-suspended game from the night before and the 1/2 hour of field prep between games and it was a long day at the park.  Tim was deliriously tired by the 7th inning.  So, we missed Kids Run the Bases.  Still, it was a great day at Baseballtown.

I’ll leave you with one more picture.  Here is a big picture of FirstEnergy Stadium with labels showing the former R-Phils to go on to the Major Leagues since 1967:

r-phils alums.JPG

Here are some highlights:

1967 – Larry Bowa, Robin Roberts; 1970 – Bob Boone; 1971 – Mike Schmidt; 1980 -Ryne Sandberg; 1981 – Julio Franco; 1995 – Scott Rolen; 1999 – Jimmy Rollins, Pat Burrell; 2001 – Carlos Silva, Brett Myers; 2002 – Ryan Madson; 2003 – Carlos Ruiz; 2004 – Ryan Howard; 2005 – Cole Hamels.

Not too shabby.

5 Comments

In san antonio it is only 5$ general Admission but kids cost 4$ but still a great price nice blog

Kyle Drabek likely looks bound for the majors. Great pictures, looks like you guys had an excellent time. Too bad that the area around me is relatively short on Minor League ball. That Japanese Pagoda is quite out of place, lol!
http://homerfoodandhistory.mlblogs.com/

Hi Todd,
I like the beautiful panorama of this lovely local ballpark and the surrounding green landscape!
I am also surprised to find a “Japanese” pagoda behind the RF and learn that it has a long history of about 100 years but irrelevant to any particular Japanese person.
http://www.roadsideamerica.com/story/10657

A little bit unfortunately to a native Japanese, it looks quite different from the authentic ones commonly seen in Buddhism temples in Japan. Rather, it is a mixture or hybrid of pagoda (a tall and slim tower originating from the shape of umbrella shielding a tomb from sunlight and rainwater and not intended as an observation tower to go up) and castle (military facility), as clearly indicated by the top ornaments. The corkscrew finial at the center of the roof is characteristic of a pagoda, while the two golden orcas, called “shachihoko” in Japanese, at both ends of the roof are characteristic of a castle.

NAO-
Very interesting to learn that they did a mish-mash job when putting the Pagoda together back in the early 1900s.
Thanks for the article about it. I’ve only lived in Reading for 5 years and I’ve never really known the story behind the Pagoda. Its a nice landmark for the city. You can see it from all around town. Plus, at night, they light it up in bright red lights:
http://pics4.city-data.com/cpicv/vfiles22883.jpg
The Reading Phillies really seem to like the Pagoda too, if you blow up the player photos above (for example: http://cookandsonbats.mlblogs.com/kyle%20drabek.JPG) you will see that the players have a blue version of the Pagoda on their left sleeve.
Also, if you go to the official website for the city of Reading, you’ll see they are very proud of the Pagodo as it is prominent on the website: http://www.readingpa.gov/

Todd,
Thanks for your valuable information. Everything is new to me. I know a number of Japanese people who have stayed at Philadelphia as businesspersons, students, and postdocs, but none of them have told me about this unique building so popular among the local community.
The Blue Pagoda emblem is especially cool and fantastic! I’ll never confuse this with any other team’s logo.
I like Miss Patty Pagoda too, the cute mascot groundhog/weather forecaster!
http://www.readingpa.gov/documents/pagoda_news_holiday_09.pdf
The reference date for her weather forecast, February 2, is about 1 month before the starting of Spring Training 2010. What will be her forecast about the coming of Spring 2010? (She seems to have a number of colleagues around the both side of Appalachian Mountains)

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