READING, Pa. - After two weeks of speculation, the Reading Phillies unveiled the team's new name and look Saturday.
The team will now be known as the Fightin' Phils, a nod to the 1950s "Whiz Kid" era in Philadelphia. While some fans applauded the change, many are angry.
"I think it's a big improvement and a step in the right direction," said Paul Barnyock of Reading.
The "Fightins" is a nickname from Philadelphia's iconic "Whiz Kid" era of the 1950s. Reading's new uniforms are an exact replica of what the parent team wore in 1950.
"The way they've honored them -- honored the Philadelphia Phillies - with what they've done with the logo and uniform, is just a tremendous thing," said Andrew Cammarano, a fan from Reading.
Some uniforms feature the new "Fightins" name, while others bear the name "Baseballtown," the team's home venue.
"Baseballtown and what Baseballtown charities and what more people caring about the game of baseball means, it was important enough that we felt like we needed to take it onto the field," said Reading general manger Scott Hunsicker.
But the Fightins' new mascot is the biggest, and most controversial, change. It's an ostrich, the one that Reading's popular "Crazy Hot Dog Vendor" rides in on during games. According to Hunsicker, the new look was an effort to reach out to kids.
"He's as indigenous to Reading as the Iron Pig or the Flying Squirrel are to their markets," he said.
But plenty of fans are fuming. The hundreds of comments on our 69 News Facebook page have been overwhelmingly negative.
"Really? That's their big redo?", one poster wrote. "Lots of money spent for nothing."
Another wrote: "That new name is just a big team nickname."
Some took the Phils to task for promoting violence in an already crime-ridden city.
"If I want to see Reading Fightin, all I need to do is go into the city any night," said one poster. "I thought Reading was trying to change that image."
Team leaders believe fans will come to see the new look as positive.
"People are afraid of change; I get that," said Hunsicker. "The thing is, we knew the end of the story."
Popular former general manager Chuck Domino said, the Reading Phillies have never been afraid of change.
"If it isn't broke, don't fix it?", he said. "That's really not a mantra that we go by here."
Team leaders said this rebranding effort was a delicate balancing act: trying to appeal more to families, while still keeping Reading's close ties to the Phillies.
Hunsicker said the Philadelphia Phillies organization approved of the name and logo change.
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- Berks 69 News