The Philadelphia Phillies Winter Tour, formerly known as the Phillies Caravan, will be returning to Reading in its traditional form for the first time since 1996.
Guests will include General Manager Pat Gillick, manager Charlie Manuel and a slate of players, including center fielder Aaron Rowand, new closer Tom Gordon and Rookie of the Year winner Ryan Howard, among others.
The event will be held Wednesday, Jan. 25 at the Sheraton in Reading. Tickets are $50. For ticket information, click here.
The event will have a dual purpose, also serving as Baseballtown Charities annual fund raiser and King of Baseballtown banquet. This year, Baseballtown Charities honors Rocky Santilli, local fast-pitch softball manager and owner of more than 2,000 career wins.
Not only am I excited to rub elbows with the people I obsess over every morning, it's noteworthy for another reason.
The Phillies have two goals this winter, not one. The first is what we discuss most often: ways to improve the club and win a championship. The second may be just as important, and that’s reconnecting with fans.
Having grown up in the Reading area, I can tell you there’s no bigger pound-for-pound concentration of Phillies fans than here in Berks County. The Reading Phillies have been a tremendous success, setting attendance marks year after year. By virtue of having such talent as Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell and Jimmy Rollins pass through town, fans here have a special connection to these players. They're like our children in a way, and we're very proud. We’re well informed, too. Mike Drago, the Reading Eagle beat writer for the R-Phils, does a tremendous job, as do the R-Phils themselves, considered the standard by which other minor league teams are measured.
Dang it. I should be getting a check for this stuff.
Anyway, the revival of the Winter Tour / Caravan is a positive step, and it’s great to finally see some Phillies out and about somewhere other than Old City at 2 a.m. It's part of the duty of being a ballplayer. Otherwise, they should compete in a less dignified sport, like NASCAR.