Reading: A Cheesesteak and Baseball

I do my best to go to at least one baseball game in Reading every year. Last year during my pilgrimage I stopped by Mike’s Sandwich Shop near the stadium. After ordering I noticed that they had a menu item called “The Thing.”  I resolved to try it the next time I was in town. Today was that day.

"The Thing."

“The Thing” is a cheesesteak with onions, peppers, a touch of marinara sauce, American cheese, provolone cheese, and copious amounts of black pepper that is fried and assembled then wrapped in foil and baked in an oven. A stack of sliced dill pickles accompanies the sandwich (in the picture it looks like just a few, but it was about a dozen of them). While it was not the best cheesesteak I’ve ever had, ordering it was certainly a worthwhile endeavor. I give it a thumbs up.

As I walked to the ballpark I was shocked to see extensive remodeling at the front of First Energy Stadium. It was a bit disorienting. The renovations are an improvement, but I knew the old set up like the back of my hand, and a part of me is sad to see the old ticket windows and gates gone.

The new front of First Energy Stadium.

The big dog tag has become a focal point. The ticket windows are now centered (where the old entrance gates used to be) and the gates are to the right. This frees up the entrance and is about 200% more efficient in moving people into the stadium by my estimate.

The new entrance at First Energy Stadium.

I bought a second tier box seat and without asking was assigned seat number 9. The evening was the kind God designed with baseball in mind. The sky was blue; the sun shone; a very slight breeze moved through the park.

I noticed the Reading Phillies added a new number to the retired jerseys in center field. None other than the number 9. A tribute to Robin Roberts (a bit tardy on that, Robin played in Reading in 1967–the final stop of his professional career, not while he was climbing the ladder).

The first pitch.

The Phillies played the Richmond Flying Squirrels, an affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. It was the first time I’ve seen the Squirrels play, they are a relative newcomer to the Eastern League.

This game was a pretty average AA baseball game. A bit sloppy at times. One oddity was that there were three thrown bats that struck the fencing, narrowly missing fans. I’ve never seen three thrown bats in one game before.

The Flying Squirrels got an early lead and held on to win the game 5-2. Joe Savery pitched two scoreless innings for the R-Phils, which is interesting because he is an infielder on the roster. He is a former first round pick that was drafted as a pitcher but has converted to a position player this year. His stuff looked great, I wonder if a return to the mound is in his future?

Baseball games on summer nights are gold. Pure gold.

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