The greater Reading area was named Baseballtown on March 4, 2002, during a special luncheon at the Oakbrook Unit of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club. With a long baseball history that dates back as far as the late 1800’s, Baseballtown is more than just a name for Reading.
The purpose of Baseballtown is to honor the area’s rich baseball history and to secure its future. Baseballtown Charities, the most recognizable organization under the Baseballtown trademark, is designed to grow the game of baseball on the youth level.
“I grew up in Reading and loved baseball,” Jeff Palmer, President of the Olivet Boys and Girls Club, says. “Every kid back then, in every neighborhood, all had balls and gloves and bats. But sadly, that’s not the case today.” Baseballtown Charities is changing that with its generous contributions to the Olivet Boys and Girls Club RBI Leagues and other youth baseball organizations.
Reading’s professional baseball roots can be traced to the late 1800’s, when teams like the Actives, Coal Heavers and Pretzels played at Lauer’s Park. Baseball was always very much alive in the area, even before First Energy Stadium was built in 1950. The Reading Phillies began there in 1967. During that historic period, 17 local players have moved on to become Major League players, including “Broadway” Charlie Wagner, “Whitey” Kurowski, Dom Dallessandro, Carl Furillo, Randy Gumpert, and Wade Miller.
Others came to Reading to fine tune their skills before making the move to the Major Leagues. Players such as Rocky Colavito, Herb Score, Roger Maris, and Rico Petrocelli all made a stop in Baseballtown before continuing on to Major League fame and success.
The Phillies have been in Baseballtown since 1967. The Reading Phillies have the longest affiliation in all of Minor League Baseball. Similarly, Reading’s baseball stadium, dubbed “America’s Classic Ballpark” has been maintained and played on for three generations, since 1950. The same fans that came to the park as children return there with their children and even grandchildren.
Many things have changed throughout Reading’s history, but the spirit of baseball and the passion of the fans will always remain. That is what makes this place Baseballtown.