READING, Pa.---The Reading Fightin Phils, Double-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, have been named the Eastern League's inaugural nominee for the 2013 John Henry Moss Community Service Award. The award will be presented annually to the club that demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support, and leadership throughout the season.
"This honor from the Eastern League serves as recognition for all the hard work the Fightins and Baseballtown Charities put forward in 2013," said President of Baseballtown Charities Chuck Domino. "By creating an atmosphere at the ballpark that encourages our players, staff, and fans to reach out to the community, we hope we can make the City of Reading a better place for future generations."
The winner of the award will be selected by Minor League Baseball and honored at the 2013 Baseball Winter Meetings in Orlando, Florida.
During the 2013 season, the Fightin Phils lent a helping hand to multiple facets of the City of Reading and the surrounding Berks County area. With the assistance of the staff and team, Reading was able to make unprecedented contributions through Baseballtown Charities, the organization's 501 (c)(3) non-profit that was established in 2002 to revitalize baseball in the inner city.
In the past year, the Fightins have raised nearly $100,000 through in-stadium fundraising efforts. The in-stadium amount is on top of the $90,000 the team raised through its Baer Park Renovation Project.
Identified by Baseballtown Charities and the City of Reading Parks and Recreation Commission as an area in dire need, Baer Park was the first among several baseball fields that will be revamped as part of the renovation project. Prior to the project, the area required new outfield fencing, major field renovations, and total bleacher replacement.
Baseballtown Charities was able to begin construction on the field in August after a pair of large contributions totaling $60,000 from the Wyomissing Foundation and Colonial Oaks Foundation. The charitable organization was then able to contribute the remaining funds for the overhaul as part of fundraisers, highlighted by a raffle for Fightins first baseman Jim Murphy's 1991 Jaguar XJ6. The renovations at Baer Park are expected to be completed in October and will be the first of several fields that Baseballtown Charities plans to renovate throughout the city.
The Baer Park Renovation Project follows the $900,000 construction of Gordon Hoodak Stadium at Lauer's Park in 2006. Through contributions, the youth ballpark was built in a neighborhood that is quickly returning to its glory days. It sits on the grounds of Lauer's Park Elementary School, named for the former stadium where greats like Babe Ruth and Shoeless Joe Jackson both played.
The franchise's inner city efforts continued with the launching of the 9 to the Nines program alongside Brandiose and Subway Restaurants. Much like they do with teams they work with in MiLB and MLB, Jason Klein and Casey White of Brandiose worked alongside children in five Olivet Boys & Girls Clubs to develop characters and names for the teams. The culmination of a 16-month project was revealed in June when each of the six teams debuted their new uniforms at the Olivet Boys & Girls Club RBI League Opening Day.
The Fightins' community effort was led by a strong showing from the team. Among the events the team participated in were coaching youth baseball camps, helping build Habitat for Humanity homes, and helping clean parks among other community appearances.
Through the Step Up initiative, the Phillies require their players to lend a hand in the community and record at least 10 hours of service during the season. The Fightin Phils team went above and beyond to finish first place among all Phillies minor league teams with a whopping 344 hours, over 125 hours more than the next closest team. Fightins pitchers David Buchanan and Tyler Knigge were also declared co-champions by the Phillies with 78 and 75 hours, respectively.
Season tickets, mini-plans, and group tickets for the 2014 season at FirstEnergy Stadium are available by visiting Fightins.com, calling the Fightin Phils Ticket Office at 610-370-BALL, or by visiting the Fightin Phils Ticket Office in person at FirstEnergy Stadium. Follow the Fightin Phils on Twitter at @ReadingFightins and like them on Facebook via www.facebook.com/fightins.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.