(Reading, Pa.)---While FirstEnergy Stadium won't be for the birds in 2013, the classic ballpark will be home to two living ostriches this summer as part of an exciting, unique partnership between the Reading Fightin Phils and the Berks County and Pennsylvania agriculture community.
"Fans can now experience and learn about farming and these unique animals from Africa just by attending a Fightin Phils game," said Fightin Phils General Manager Scott Hunsicker. "We hope that families can fall in love with both farming and baseball from the allure of these magnificent ostriches."
Honoring the newfound struthious logo of the Fightin Phils, the ostriches will celebrate Berks County's long-lasting farming connection like no other minor league team has ever done.
The pair of female ostriches hail from Roaming Acres Natural Farm in Newtown, New Jersey. Originating from a South African breed, both of the avian creatures are two years old.
With the assistance of State Senator Judy Schwank, the Minority Chair of the Pennsylvania Senate Committee on Agriculture and Rural Affairs, and the Deputy Secretary Matthew Meals from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, the flightless birds will be housed at America's Classic Ballpark in the raised outfield pasture that sits behind the centerfield walls. Before and after each home game at FirstEnergy Stadium, the ostriches will be on display for Fightins fans thanks to Steve Moyer Subaru.
"Berks County ranks third in the United States and first in the state for farmland preservation and the ostrich duo will help draw attention to the county's leading industry," added Hunsicker.
Fightins fans will be able to help name the new residents of Baseballtown through a "Name the Ostriches" contest presented via Fightins.com. Fans must be a member of the Baseballtown Insider to submit their name choices. Once signed up for the Baseballtown Insider, you will be e-mailed a contest link to submit your name suggestions. All names should be submitted as a pair prior to by Thursday, April 4. Name finalists will be chosen and announced on Friday, April 5. Fightins fans can then vote for their favorite pair of names for the selected finalists.
Those interested in submitting names can do so by clicking here: Sign Up for the Baseballtown Insider.
Fans submitting names chosen as finalists will be invited to Opening Night on Friday, April 12, where the winning names will be announced during the pre-game. If more than one person submits the same pair of names, the first person to have submitted those names will be recognized as the finalist. The individual who selects the winning name will receive a Grand Prize that includes a 20-person pool picnic in the Reading Eagle Character Pool Party, a ceremonial first pitch, and a Reading Fightins gift basket.
Those interested in setting up a tour of America's Classic Ballpark, where they can visit the ostriches, can do so by contacting Todd Hunsicker at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 610-370-BALL x.206.
Once again, the Reading Fightin Phils wouldn't be able to welcome the ostriches without the help of:
• Steve Moyer Subaru
• Sen. Judy Schwank
• Honorable Matthew Meals from the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture
• Sheila Miller from Berks Agricultural Resource Network
• Future Farmers of America
• Kutztown Bird and Animal Hospital
• University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine's New Bolton Center
The Fightin Phils kick off the home schedule to their 47th season affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies on Friday, April 12 at FirstEnergy Stadium when the team takes on the Erie SeaWolves (Detroit Tigers). The first 3,000 adults receive a Fightin Phils Uniform Blanket thanks to Capital BlueCross, VF Outlet, and Van Bennett Food Company. Tickets for the 2013 season can be purchased online at Fightin.com, by phone at 610-370-BALL, or by visiting the FirstEnergy Stadium Ticket Office.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.