It's official … The Reading Phillies – or R-Phils, for short – are now the Reading Fightin Phils!
Saturday's announcement by General Manager Scott Hunsicker to an estimated crowd of 1,500 gathered at FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading capped off a tumultuous two weeks for Hunsicker and his staff.
Change is usually accompanied by some sort of controversy. This change was no exception. The "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mentality plagued the club after it was announced that the franchise was rebranding itself with a new name, logo, and uniforms.
Explaining his thoughts on the controversy, Hunsicker summed it up in one word – "Passion."
"This turnout today reaffirms the passion of our fans," said Hunsicker. "It's amazing how many people are here at the stadium on a Saturday in November."
While there are certainly fans who are still upset about the changes – and probably will be for some time – many fans in attendance on Saturday seemed relieved.
"Personally, I like it," said Rory Worley of Wernersville – referring to the name change. "I just hope that the club doesn't look at it from a business point of view, but from a community aspect."
The name "Fightin Phils" pays homage to the team's 46-year affiliation with the Philadelphia Phillies and references the big-league club's nickname during the Whiz Kids era of the 1950s.
"Our relationship with the Phillies is stronger than ever and the Fightin Phils is a unique way to enhance our ties with Philadelphia even more," said Hunsicker. "The Fightin Phils reaffirms our bond with the Phillies in a creative, unique way."
Along with the name, Hunsicker revealed the team's new logo and uniforms. Phillies Red, Nighttime Navy, Feather Gray, and Ostrich Flesh are the new official colors of the team.
The Fightins' new name is accompanied by a kid-friendly ostrich logo that symbolizes the feisty bird that is now "indigenous to Reading" because of the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor.
Reminiscent of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish Leprechaun – with fists ready for battle – the new ostrich logo represents the fighting spirit of the Reading baseball franchise. The logo is also the first in professional sports to feature an ostrich as its mascot.
"When we decided to look at our franchise, we felt that we needed a mark that spoke to families since being a family destination has been paramount to our success," said Hunsicker.
With a total of four jerseys (two home and two road) and six caps, the Reading Fightin Phils will have the most on-field gear of any minor league team in history when they take the field in April. The Fightins uniform will also feature unprecedented sublimation technology from Wilson Sporting Goods.
Some of the uniforms will honor the legacy of "Baseballtown" – the name bestowed on the greater Reading area on March 4, 2002. Professional baseball in Reading can be traced back to the late 1800s with teams like the Actives, Coal Heavers, and Pretzels.
The Reading Phillies began playing at what is now FirstEnergy Stadium – dubbed "America's Classic Ballpark" – in 1967. It is the longest affiliation in all of Minor League Baseball.
Baseballtown Charities is a 501-C-3 non-profit, charitable organization that was founded to keep baseball alive in Reading so that children can benefit from the many lessons the game teaches.
The Fightins look was brought to life by Jason Klein and Casey White of Brandiose of San Diego, CA. Their creativity has also given birth to some of the most popular logos in baseball including the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Lehigh Valley IronPigs, and the Cincinnati Reds – America's oldest baseball club.
The rebranding process began 18 months ago when Klein and White met with front office staff, community members, and Philadelphia Phillies representatives to discuss how the franchise could further its brand while digging deeper into its heritage. Brandiose developed the logos, uniforms, and other enhancements for the 2013 season.
"Even though most of our fans are Phillies fans, not all of them are," said Hunsicker. "The Fightins allows you to celebrate the Phillies and the Reading franchise independently if you choose to do so."
Hunsicker was named the 2012 Eastern League Executive of the Year by the Eastern League. He will receive the award during the opening session of the Baseball Winter Meetings on Monday, Dec. 3 in Nashville, TN.
For more information about the new Reading Fightin Phils, visit www.ReadingFightins.com .
Additional information about Baseballtown can be found at www.Baseballtown.org