Philadelphia Phillies manager Pete Mackanin, starting pitcher Aaron Nola, and catcher Cameron Rupp will be guests of honor when the Reading Fightin Phils, Double- A affiliate of the Phillies, host the 2016 Phillies Winter Banquet on Tuesday, January 19th at the Crowne Plaza Reading Hotel starting at 6:30 p.m. with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. for a cocktail hour. Additional guests from the Phillies organization are expected to be announced at a later date.
The annual event is the chief fundraiser for Baseballtown Charities, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization founded to keep baseball alive in Reading through programs that honor the city's rich baseball history and secure its future by giving more kids the opportunity to play and learn from the game's life lessons.
The event will also feature an auction featuring sports collectibles and other items, raffles, highlight videos, and more.
Mackanin, 64, was named the 53rd manager in Philadelphia Phillies history on September 22 after serving as interim manager following Ryne Sandberg's resignation. Under Mackanin, the Phillies went 37-51, which included a 21-12 stretch from July 17 through August 23. He is also the eighth Phillies manager to have also played and coached for the team.
Prior to being named manager, Mackanin served as bench coach with the Phillies from 2009-12 and third base coach in 2014-15. He has also served as interim manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2005 and the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. His all-time managerial record stands at 83-99 heading into 2016.
Since being drafted in the first round by the Phillies in 2014, Nola, 22, has skyrocketed through the farm system all the way to his major league debut last July. In his rookie season, Nola posted a 3.59 ERA in 13 starts while finishing the season tied for the team lead with six wins even though he was in the majors for just over two months.
In 2014, Nola became the first Phillies player since Brad Brink in 1986 to be drafted and make his Double-A debut in the same season when he was promoted to Reading in August 2014. He went 4-3 with a 2.93 ERA in 11 combined starts between Clearwater (A+) and Reading that season.
He returned to the Fightins in 2015 and picked up where he left off in the season prior. The Baton Rouge, La. native was 7-3 with a 1.88 ERA over 76.2 innings while striking out 59 batters to just nine walks before earning a promotion to Triple-A Lehigh Valley in mid-June. At the time of his promotion, he led Eastern League pitchers in innings pitched while ranking third with his ERA mark.
A 2013 alum of the Fightins, Rupp,27, opened up the 2015 season on the Phillies roster and hit .233 with nine homers, 28 RBIs and nine doubles in 81 games. The Dallas, Texas native had a breakout month of August and powered seven homers while hitting .310 in 17 games for the Phillies. Behind the dish, Rupp threw out 20 of 53 (37.7%) base runners attempting to steal, which if he qualified, would be the fifth-best mark in the majors.
The Phillies Winter Banquet will also see the crowning of the 2016 King of Baseballtown Chris Blum.
Blum is the all-time winningest baseball coach in Kutztown University history and is heading into his 14th season as head coach of the Golden Bears. Over the past 13 seasons, Blum has amassed a 442-224 (.664) overall record, including a 181-117 (.607) mark in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC). He has coached his teams to four PSAC crowns, three (North) Atlantic Regional titles, and 10 appearances in the NCAA regional tournament. The Golden Bears also won PSAC titles in 2005, 2006, 2008, and 2014 along with regional titles in 2004, 2007, and 2010.
In 2014, Blum became the ninth coach in PSAC history to win 400 career games and the second-quickest PSAC coach to record 400 wins. On March 24, 2010 against East Stroudsburg, Blum became the winningest baseball coach at KU, surpassing mentor Matt Royer's 270 career victories. He was the fastest Pennsylvania baseball coach to reach 200 wins.
Prior to taking over as head coach, Blum served as assistant coach at KU for eight seasons. Blum began his coaching career at Muhlenberg High School, his alma mater. He was an assistant for four years. Prior to coming to Kutztown as an assistant, Blum had been head coach of the Berkshire Red Sox of the Mid-Atlantic Collegiate Baseball League.
In college, Blum played at Elizabethtown College, winning multiple division titles, a MAC Championship, and qualifying for two NCAA Division III regional tournaments. He graduated in 1993 with a bachelor of science in communications.
Seating and table reservations for the annual event are available now by calling 610-370-BALL, logging on Fightins.com, or by stopping by the Fightins Ticket Office located at FirstEnergy Stadium. Individual reservations for the annual event cost $65. Table reservations of 10 people for the banquet cost $500.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.