The minor league team in Reading, PA is about to enter their 47th season as an affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies, which according to the Reading Eagle ties them for the longest current affiliation in the minors. Needless to say, the local folks enjoy having that connection to the nearby big league team, and it seems they also enjoyed sharing a name with the Phillies, as well their simple, traditional looking logo.
Both will different, however, when the team takes the field in the spring, as general manager Scott Hunsicker and team officials announced on Saturday they will now be known as the Reading Fightin Phils, adding the Phillies' longtime nickname to their own, and the new logo will feature an ostrich striking a fighting pose.
"It was not a dramatic change, "Hunsicker said. "We went from the Reading Phillies to the Reading Fightin Phils."
The twitter reaction to the rebranding doesn't seem to mesh with Hunsicker's assessment, as so far the opinions have been mixed to say the least. Oh, and by mixed I mean some are not pleased with the name change itself, and the rest are not amused by the unusual choice of an ostrich. But, then again, I haven't read any reaction yet from the demographic Hunsicker says the Fightin Phils are aiming for with that selection.
"Our main impetus (in the rebrand) was that we felt the Reading Phillies (logo) didn't speak to kids," Hunsicker said. "It was a word. We've got to speak to the children of our community; we've got to engage them, and kids really latch onto animals.
"Look at (minor league) franchises that are resonating: The (Lehigh Valley) IronPigs, the (Richmond) Flying Squirrels, the (Lake Elsinore) Storm, the (Clearwater) Threshers. They all have fun (names and images), something that speaks to children. We didn't have one.
"We want to speak to children with our icon. To do that we have to insert a fun, heroic-looking animal. In order to do that we needed to tweak the name to Fightin Phils."
It's said the motivation behind choosing for the ostrich came from a guy known as the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor, who enters the field riding a costume ostrich named Rodrigo. Apparently that act is a big hit with the kids, so it's entirely possible, if not likely, this plan will indeed be a home run with the younger fanbase.
The traditionalists, on the other hand, are going to need to a little bit more convincing, or a lot more time to let the change sink in. But regardless of their feelings now or in the future, the change is official, and the heroic fighting ostrich is here to stay.