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:
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):
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:
Here is a closer look:
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:
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):
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:
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:
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:
And Tim did some smiling and pointing:
…and we took more panoramics:
Then we took to our feet and got some action shots — here is Phils top pitching prospect, Kyle Drabek:
. . . 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):
I’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:
As 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?
This 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:
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:
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.
So, I have a three year old son, Tim. He is my partner in crime when it comes to baseball adventures. We (read, I) have set a couple “fan” goals for the 2009 baseball season. This weekend, we start our quest to achieve those goals. So, I guess I should let you know what some of those goals are. I won’t burden you with all of our goals, but here are the top three (in order of importance):
2) Have Tim complete the MLB circuit – see each of the 30 teams play live. Tim is 3 and he has seen 20 teams. To complete the circuit, he needs to see the A’s (May 1-3), Rangers (May 4-5), Royals (Aug. 17), Tigers (May 31), Red Sox (July 3-4), Rays (April 12), Dodgers (May 12), Padres (April 19), Astros (Aug. 14) and Braves (May 10).
3) Visit 11 stadia (stadiums) – Safeco Field, Camden Yards, Citizens Bank Park, Wrigley Field, The HHH Metrodome, Miller Park, U.S. Cellular, Fenway Park, Citi Field, Nationals Park, and (New) Yankee Stadium.
Tim and I will start the quest tomorrow as we visit Camden Yards to see the Rays and Orioles. I love Camden Yards. I’ve go there at least once a year every year…since probably 2000. Its an awesome park. I always get the cheap seats in straight away center. Its an excellent view of the field and you get all of the sights and smells of Eutaw Street (and Boog’s BBQ) just behind the seats.
Tim and Ken Griffey, Jr. at Camden-Yards.
Its odd for me to go to game that does not include the Mariners, Ken Griffey, Jr. (when he was on the Reds and White Sox) or the Phillies (the closest team to our home). I’ve decided that I’ll root for the Orioles. They have a couple ex-Mariners (all the young studs we gave up to get Bedard) and, in case the M’s are in the wild card race at the end of the season, I think one more win in the O’s column and one less in the Rays column would be good for the M’s.
We got a jump start on our season today by attending a short bit of the Reading Phillies game today. The R-Phils are our local AA team. They’re the jewel of the Phillies’ farm system, and of the Eastern League.
I know some of the R-Phils front office staff from playing softball against them in the Reading-Berks Business Softball League. They’re good guys who have a lot of fun. And they put on some great Minor League entertainment at FirstEnergy Field.
Tonight, they had the Phillies Phanatic and the World Series Trophy in town. Anyone could get a free picture with the Trophy. Tim and I wore some Mariners gear so the Trophy could get familiar with the M’s. I told Tim that the next time we visit the World Series Trophy, it will be in Seattle. Let’s hope that days comes some day soon.
Speaking of the M’s. They’re in first place!
Strong D, strong pitching, timely hitting…and all this without Ichiro, who is ripping it up in extended spring training with the Mariners low Minor Leaguers. I can’t wait to see my M’s in Seattle next month!