The Reading Phillies have announced that the franchise has decided to jettison the "Phillies" name this month as part of a rebranding process. The new name will be announced in a ceremony of sorts at Reading's FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Philadelphia and Reading Phillies currently have professional baseball's longest standing minor/major league affiliate relationship, with the Reading team using the name "Phillies" for each of the last 46 seasons.
The "rebranding" project will be directed by sports marketing firm Brandiose, who gave us such sensational team names as the Richmond Flying Squirrels and the Phillies' own Lehigh Valley IronPigs.
In case you can't tell, I hate this. I'm not much of a traditionalist about most things, but this literally hits me close to home. I grew up about a half hour from FirstEnergy Stadium (then Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium and later "GPU Stadium"), and spent over a hundred nights in my youth hanging out at the ballpark, hassling guys like Marvin Freeman and Bob Scanlan for autographs, and learning to appreciate funnel cake.
Mike Drago of the Reading Eagle spoke to Reading General Manager Scott Hunsicker, who acknowledged that messing with a long-standing brand is a risky thing:
Hunsicker realizes that it may be a risk tampering with such valued property. That's why the club has moved ahead cautiously over the past 18 months in tackling such an ambitious project.
"This is big, as far as branding a franchise, and doing it properly," he said. "(Reading) is powerful territory for people in my industry. In minor league baseball this is a guarded treasure right here."
So we're messing with a good thing, is what he seems to be saying. This is marketing brilliance.
Here are my suggestions:
Reading Pretzels, for everyone's favorite fattening snack
Reading Rabbits, a bookish tribute to Reading native John Updike's Rabbit Angstrom
Reading New Cokes, to honor the local coal industry