For over 150 years, the great sport of baseball has brought families, friends, and strangers together in harmony. The spring season is synonymous with baseball, and in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region, we’re proud to say that our history with America’s favorite pastime is as rich and vibrant.
Read on to learn more about the local Berks County area’s deep-rooted connections to the foundational sport of American baseball.
Ruth Kramer Hartman: A Landmark Figure in Professional Women’s Sports
Did you know that one of the first-ever women to play professional baseball was a native of Reading, PA? It’s true! Ruth Kramer Hartman played for the Fort Wayne Daisies and the Grand Rapids Chucks of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League all the way back in the 1940s. Just think, one of the characters in League of Their Own could have been based on Ruth!
Before making it to the pros, Ruth was one of the most celebrated softball pitchers in the entire state of Pennsylvania. Following her career at the professional level, Ruth returned to Reading, where she continued to pitch in local softball leagues for more than 10 years.
Even with a wealth of mold-breaking success under her baseball cap, Ruth still wasn’t satisfied. She would go on to found the girl’s softball program at Reading High School, where she remained as a coach with great success for an additional 16 years.
Unfortunately, the legendary Ruth Kramer Hartman died on November 9, 2015, of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. An indication of her prominence in the Reading baseball community was that the day before her funeral, when hundreds of friends and family came to pay their respects in a visitation held at FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Reading Fightin’ Phils, where Ruth spent so many happy evenings.
In 2016, she was posthumously inducted into the Reading Baseball Hall of Fame.Looking back on her life in 2012, Ruth said, “I always wanted to be the best — whether it was in baseball — I would push myself. When I was coaching, I was demanding of my players. And even now...I still always want to be the best.”
The Reading Fightin’ Phils
Ready to root for the home team? Berks County, PA is home to our very own double-A baseball team, the Reading Fightin’ Phils, which has served as a feeder system for the MLB’s illustrious Philadelphia Phillies professional major league ball club since 1967. The 46-year relationship is the longest professional relationship in all of Minor League Baseball.
The Reading Fightin’ Phils play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which regularly accommodates 10,000 local Berks County baseball fanatics each and every season. It’s no secret that ties to the heralded Fightin’ Phils run deep in PA’s Americana Region. In fact, FirstEnergy Stadium was the first American baseball stadium to reach a total attendance of more than ten million people without ever having hosted a team higher than the AA level. No wonder! Most game nights are filled with fun giveaways, entertainment, silly mascots, and fireworks to cap off the night.
When you’re in the area to enjoy a prestigious Reading Fightin’ Phils game, don’t hesitate to go exploring and check out the many different attractions that the Greater Reading Area has to offer!
In the Area for a Game? Other Event to Check Out During Your Trip!
If you’re in town for a game, the fun doesn’t have to stop after the ninth inning comes to a close! There is much to do and see in the Greater Reading Area! In addition to regional attractions, check out the seasonal happenings below!
Word War II Weekend - Each year, on the first full weekend of June, historic warbirds circle the skies above Pennsylvania’s Americana Region while the Mid-Atlantic Air Museum’s Annual World War II Weekend brings a bygone era to life on the tarmac below. The largest event of its kind, the weekend features living history reenactors, vintage WWII aircraft, military vehicles and period artifacts. Visitors can tour a French village, observe the American homefront, walk through enemy encampments, witness battles, listen to 1940s radio shows, and dance to swing music. There are dignitaries to meet, and historic airplanes to ride. It is living history at its best!
Berks Jazz Fest - Presented by Berks Arts Council – the ten-day Berks Jazz Fest is held annually in Pennsylvania’s Americana Region. For over 25 years, jazz enthusiasts have flocked to the fest to enjoy over 130 free and ticketed musical events that span the entire spectrum of Jazz, Blues and R&B. Each year at this event, world-class musicians and up-and-coming artists regularly showcase their talent to deliver a full concert series. Jazz Fest is usually held in late March and early April. However, due to the coronavirus, it will be held in August this year, making it possible for you to combine a love of baseball with a love of jazz.
Mushroom Festival - Join the fun when mushrooms take over Kennett Square in southern Chester County, right in the middle of the area where 65% of the mushrooms consumed in the United States are grown. Long known as “The Mushroom Capital of the World,” the Mushroom Festival stretches for more than a mile, featuring culinary events, exhibits, contests, children’s entertainment, and nearly 200 vendors. The festival, which is annually held on the second weekend of September, attracts more than 100,000 people every year.
Looking for a Bite to Eat? Awesome Local Restaurants Abound!
When the game runs late and you are starting to get tired of peanuts and cracker jacks, don’t worry! The Greater Reading Area is proud to be rich in culinary excellence spanning a wide variety of food genres. Check out some of the most highly recommended local restaurants in the Berks County Area!
Austin’s Restaurant and Bar - An upscale, casual American restaurant, Austin’s has been one Berks County’s most popular spots since 1996. Serving both lunch and dinner, you can expect excellence with homemade, fresh food. Choose from the eatery’s “wide appeal” selection of hand cut steaks, fresh fish, chicken & ribs, pastas, salads and more. A few local favorites include homemade soups, apple walnut salad, fish & chips, slow roasted prime rib, Chesapeake crab cakes, roasted vegetable pasta and of course, their “famous” baby back ribs. A seasonal inspired menu and a complete Gluten Free menu is also available, including pastas, sandwiches, and desserts. Austin’s Restaurant and Bar is located at 1101 Snyder Road, West Lawn, PA.
Pike Cafe - You won’t miss a second of sports action while at the Pike Cafe. Its neighborhood location may scream Mom & Pop store, but don’t be deceived. The Pike is a stand-out, local restaurant offering delicious snacks, entrees, specials and nearly 25 taps of craft beer that just happens to have 54 HD televisions broadcasting every game imaginable. Great for families and after the game fun.
Need to Spend the Night? Great Places to Stay in Berks County, PA!
Whether the game runs late and you’re too tired to head home, or if you’re looking to spend a few more days checking out everything that the Reading, PA area has to offer, you’re going to need a great place to stay. Check out these incredible options!
The Gables at Stirling Guest Hotel - You can’t get much closer to FirstEnergy Stadium than the The Gables at Stirling Guest Hotel. Located at 1120 Centre Avenue in Reading, this 15-suite hotel is considered one of the finest examples of chateauesque architecture in Eastern Pennsylvania. Built in 1892, the mansion and carriage house were the residence of James Sternbergh, an iron and steel magnate whose family lived in the mansion for more than 100 years. The breathtaking main floor of the mansion features original parlors with beautifully carved woodwork, hand painted ceilings, and many other opulent details.
The DoubleTree by Hilton - Experience the DoubleTree by Hilton, a stylish hotel located at 701 Penn Street in Downtown Reading, right across the street from Santander Arena, and a short walk from the GoggleWorks Center for the Arts. As soon as you walk in the door, enjoy DoubleTree’s signature warm chocolate chip cookies. Once in your room, you’ll discover complimentary Wi-Fi, a refrigerator, and a 42-inch HDTV. Upgrading to a one or two bedroom suite expands your space with a separate living room and view of downtown. Onsite, Cheers American Bistro features farm to table dining using locally sourced ingredients. You can even stay fit thanks to the 24-hour fitness center and indoor pool!
Robin Hill Camping Resort - When a hotel just won’t do, why not go camping? Robin Hill Camping Resort in Lenhartsville is best known as a family oriented camping destination resort with tons of amenities, including a swimming pool with water feature, a newly remodeled convenience store with groceries, clothing and RV supplies, a newly renovated snack bar, a fishing lake (no license required), an arcade style game room, multiple playgrounds, a half court basketball court, horseshoes, volleyball, dump station, laundry, showers and organized activities every weekend! With 270 campsites spread out over 35 acres, they are able to offer tent, RV, cabin and cottage rentals for overnight or extended stay accommodations!
The Berks County area has a lot to offer, come check it out for yourself, and embark on an exciting journey you won’t soon forget! Contact us today for more information on all things Pennsylvania Americana Region!