In celebration of the 50 Phillies Seasons in Reading, the current longest affiliation in all of baseball, the Reading Fightin Phils will host not one, but two Hall of Fame Nights during the 2016 season paying tribute to a legend of Baseballtown and honoring a group of men who left their mark at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Reading Baseball Hall of Fame will add some majesty to its membership when the late “Queen of Baseballtown” Ruth Hartman gets inducted on Friday, April 8th at 7:05 p.m. Hartman played in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, the inspiration for “A League of Their Own”, for the Fort Wayne Daisies and Racine Bells during the 1940s. Later in life, Hartman was a physical education teacher in the Reading School District before founding the school’s softball program in 1976. In 18 seasons as head coach, she led the Red Knights to a 217-73 record, two Berks County Championships, three District titles, and two state runner-ups.
In addition to the induction ceremony, the first 2,000 adults 15 & over will receive a Ruth Hartman Bobble Head thanks to Pepsi. The bobblehead is modeled after Hartman’s time as a player. The Fightins will also welcome all softball players to the ballpark that game, including former players from Hartman’s terrific Reading High squads. Hartman’s daughter Karen Kase and grandaughter Kelly Beaver will accept the honor on her behalf. Memorabilia from Hartman’s illustrious life will be on display thanks to her family.
Later in the season, on Wednesday, July 27th, the Fightins will induct former Reading players Pat Burrell, Jason Michaels, Eric Valent, and Gary Burnham along with former longtime voice of the R-Phils Steve Degler thanks to 830 AM WEEU and 69 News Berks Edition.
Before he led the 2008 World Series Championship parade down Broad Street, Burrell paid his dues as a member of the 1999 Reading Phillies. The University of Miami product drove in 90 runs on 28 home runs and 28 doubles while hitting .333 in his standout season and it wasn’t long before he found his way to the majors with the Phillies.
Burrell would earn the nickname “Pat the Bat” over his nine seasons with the Phillies by hitting at least 20 home runs for eight straight seasons from 2001 to 2008. His 33 homers in 2008 helped carry the Phillies to their first World Series title in 28 years.
He’ll be joined by teammate and Reading’s all-time home run leader Burnham. Playing for Reading from 1999-2001 and then again in 2006, he set the home run record in August of 2006, besting 2015 Hall of Famer Dan Held’s record. Over his career, he played 11 years in the minors as well as playing in Mexico and Japan before retiring after the 2010 season. In addition to his skills on the diamond, Burnham was also a talented artist, painting a popular image of friend and teammate Burrell that still hangs in FirstEnergy Stadium to this day.
A critical component of the 2000 Southern Division champion team, Michaels tied for the team lead with a .295 batting average and led the club with 30 doubles. The outfielder was also a University of Miami product along with Burrell where they both were drafted by the Phillies in 1998. After making his major league debut with the Phillies in 2001, “J-Mike” went on to play 11 seasons in the majors with Philadelphia, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Houston and retired after the 2011 season.
On that same 2000 squad was Valent, who led the R-Phils with 24 home runs, 90 RBIs, 70 walks, 81 runs scored, and a .467 slugging percentage. A standout at UCLA and Pac-10 player of the year, he was a first round pick of the Phillies in the supplemental draft. The Sinking Spring resident played five seasons in the majors, including his 2004 season with the New York Mets where he hit .267 with 13 homers and 34 RBIs. He’s now the Southeast Regional Supervisor of Amateur Scouting for the Philadelphia Phillies.
Those players careers wouldn’t have been the same without the infamous of calls of Degler, the longtime voice of Reading from 1992 to 2008. At the time of his departure, Degler was the longest tenured broadcaster in the Eastern League. He currently serves at the color commentator for the Lehigh Valley IronPigs TV Network and the play-by-play voice of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms hockey team on Service Electric 2Sports. The Kutztown University alum also calls select Fightin Phils home games on 2Sports.
Through February 11th, the Fightins will be offering an exclusive pre-sale on single game tickets for the Hall of Fame inductions.
Tickets for the 2016 season, including the March 31st Phillies Futures Game, go on sale Thursday, February 18th. Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets for the 2016 season at FirstEnergy Stadium are available now by visiting Fightins.com, calling at 610-370-BALL, or by stopping by the Fightins Ticket Office located at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightins on Twitter @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via Facebook.com/Fightins.
Throughout the next two weeks, the Fightins will announce their slate of promotions for the 2016 season leading up to the day single game tickets go on sale February 18th. Below is a list of the Fightins release schedule for the 2016 promotions:
Feb. 11 50 Phillies Seasons 50 Greatest Players Promotions
Feb. 12 Mega Blasts & Other Fireworks Shows
Feb. 15 Adult Giveaways
Feb. 16 Kids Giveaways
Feb. 17 Full Schedule Announced