FirstEnergy Stadium Reading
Constructed between 1949 and 1951, this classic minor league ballpark opened as Municipal Memorial Stadium and is the oldest park in the Eastern League. Known today as FirstEnergy Stadium, the park is home to the Fightin' Phillies, also known as the Reading Phillies. Originally formed in 1885, the team has had many name changes through the years, but the Phillies have been in Reading longer than any other team in the Eastern League. In 1967, the team moved to Reading and became the double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies. The ballpark dates back to a unanimous 1945 vote by the Reading City Council to purchase the land in Cathedral Park for the purpose of a municipal stadium. The first minor league team to play here was an affiliate of Cleveland called Reading home from 1952 to 1961. They were followed by an affiliate of the Boston Red Sox until 1965.
Backstory and Context
When the baseball team was originally started in 1858, they were called the Reading Athletic Club. They later joined the Interstate League in 1883 as the Reading Actives but that ended within a year. Changing their name year another time by 1897, they names themselves the Reading Coal Heavers and played six years in the Atlantic League. After the 1906 season, the Reading Coal Heavers changed their name to the Reading Pretzels. They played in two different leagues from 1907-1917 missing the 1915 season. From 1919 to 1930 the Fightin Phils played as the Reading Coal Barons. In 1933, the Eastern League finally came to Reading. Changing their name once again, but this time the team that had been placed in Reading was a minor league team from the Boston Red Sox.
From 1939-1965 the team had changed its name twice and was owned by two separate Teams. From 1939-1941 they were the Reading Chicks and owned by the Brooklyn Dodgers and from 1963-1965 they were the Reading Indians owned by the Cleveland Indians.
Finally in 1967, the team officially changed its name to the Reading Phillies. In the 1967 season, the team went 70-69 with manager Frank Lucchesi. They ended 6th in the Eastern League and 3rd in the Western Division. The Reading Phillies were fully purchased by the by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2008 after their National Championship win. This ended a 52 year long relationship between them and the Baltimore Orioles.
The team kept this name until November of 2012. .November 4th, 2012, the Reading Phils announced they will be changing their name from Reading Phils to the Fightin Phils. Although it isn't a huge change other than just one word, this cause a huge up roar. Some people said taking the name "Reading" out of the team's name wasn't right but they did it anyways. November 17th, 2012 the team name was officially changed and hasn't been changed since. The Fightin Phillies are also the oldest team in the Eastern League still playing in their original stadium that they played at when the team first started. They have been there for 70 years.
Some notable alumni from the Reading/ Fightin Phillies teams are:
Mike Schmidt- third base (74 games for Reading in 1971) (Philadelphia Phillies 1972-1989)
Pat Burrell- left field (117 games for Reading in 1999) (Philadelphia Phillies 2000-2008)
Jimmy Rollins- shortstop (133 games for Reading in 1999) (Philadelphia Phillies 2000-2014
Carlos Ruiz- catcher (153 games for Reading in 2003-2004) (Philadelphia Phillies 2006-2016)
Ryan Howard- first base (102 games for Reading in 2004) (Philadelphia Phillies 2004-present)