READING, PA – In a city that has taken to calling itself Baseballtown, the sport is more than a pastime. It’s become something of a lifeline.
The hometown Reading Phillies have come to symbolize endurance and pride for a community that the 2010 U.S. Census ranked No. 1 in the nation in poverty. The Phillies remained long after the railroad screeched to a halt and the city’s “Outlet Capital” moniker faded. They’ve provided a welcome diversion from financial struggles and an 8 percent unemployment rate.
Given the 46-year love affair with the Philadelphia Phillies‘ Double-A farm club, there was an understandable citywide gasp when the team announced it is changing its nickname, logo and jerseys. The move was an unexpected change-up that is testing tradition and the city’s identity and polarizing a fiercely loyal fan base.
Ed Oswald, a retired hairstylist who lives outside the city, is among many who have balked at the idea.