Ashburn's son among VIPs at Fightin Phils' home opener

Olympic speedskater Allison Baver, jazz musician Gerald Veasley also in attendance

READING, Pa. - The Reading Fightin Phils will pay tribute to their parent club's rich history when they open their first home-stand of the season Friday night.

Rich Ashburn Jr., the oldest son of Phillies Hall of Famer Richie Ashburn, will be at FirstEnergy Stadium in Baseballtown to commemorate the new Fightin Phils nickname.

Ashburn's father played on the famed "Whiz Kids" 1950 Phillies team. During that era, the team was also routinely referred to as the "Fightin' Phillies", a nickname that carries on to this day.

In tribute to the Phillies history, uniform historians helped the Reading Fightin Phils recreate a cream-colored and faux-flannel home jersey to look like the one Ashburn wore with the "Whiz Kids," the team said.

Ashburn Jr., the head baseball coach at Pottsgrove High School,  will toss a first pitch to officially start the team's 47th home opener.

The Fightin Phils will also be welcoming two other special guests: Speed-skating bronze medalist Allison Baver and jazz recording artist Gerald Veasley.

Baver, a Berks County native, and her United States short track speed-skating teammates won the bronze medal in the 3000-meter relay at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver. Baver, a Wilson High School graduate, was also a Winter Olympian in 2002 and 2006.

Baver will be representing Off the Ice, a nonprofit organization she founded in 2010 to provide skating sports and educational programs in schools and communities around the world. Fans can pose for a photo with Baver and her bronze medal in exchange for a small donation to Off the Ice.

Veasley, already in town for the annual Berks Jazz Fest, will perform the national anthem.

The Fightin Phils will begin their home schedule against the Erie SeaWolves, a Detroit Tigers affiliate. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m.

The first 3,000 adults will receive a Fightin Phils uniform blanket.

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