The 2012 season has officially come to a close and it is time to sum up my top 10 moments and memories from the season.
1. Darin Ruf- Every Reading Phillies fan, and even a majority of Philadelphia Phillies fans, know the name Darin Ruf. They even know him by his nickname, “Babe Ruf.” Ruf finished the season with 38 home runs, 104 RBIs, and 32 doubles. His 38 home runs in the regular season broke the R-Phils single season record of 37, set by Ryan Howard in 2004. He finished the season as the Eastern League MVP and Rookie of the Year, the Joe Bauman award winner for the most home runs in the Minor Leagues, the Reading Phillies team MVP, and the Philadelphia Phillies Paul Owens award winner for position players. The end of the season brought with it the greatest award of them all. Darin Ruf was called up to the big leagues on September 10, 2012.
1. Justin Friend- Lurking in the shadow of the record-setting season of Darin Ruf is R-Phils closer, Justin Friend. With a perfect season of 24 saves in 24 appearances, Friend tied the R-Phils single-season record of 24 saves. He shares the record with Toby Borland (1991) and Wayne Gomes (1996.) He finished the season with a 0.23 ERA.
3. Jiwan James- Not to be left out of the top 10 moments conversation is Reading Phillies outfielder, Jiwan James. James’ biggest moments came on June 9, 2012 and July 14, 2012. June 9 saw a Reading Phillies victory with the help of an inside-the-park home run by James. Following the game on July 14, James found himself the talk of the social media world and the sports world as his jaw-dropping catch made national headlines. The catch, which resulted in his glove falling over the outfield wall while James fell to the warning track on his back, became the top play on Sportscenter’s Top 10.
4. Eastern Division Playoffs-For the second season in a row, the Reading Phillies kept fans on the edge of their seats as they fought for a spot in the playoffs. Coming into the final series of the regular season, they needed to win two games to win the wildcard spot. Many fans, including myself, spent a very stressful weekend keeping track of the scores as the team played their final games in Portland, ME. In the end, they edged out the New Britain Rock Cats for the final spot for a second consecutive season. Although they lost in the first round to Trenton, the playoffs provided some exciting games for Reading Phillies fans and a first time trip to a different stadium for this fan.
5. All-Star Classic and Home Run Derby- My first post provided a general overview of this year’s Eastern League All-Star game and Home Run Derby. As one of the most anticipated moments of the season, the Reading Phillies pulled out all the stops and did not disappoint. It was an amazing experience and I’m thrilled that I was able to be a part of it.
6. Philadelphia Phillies Promotions- One of the best parts of working for a minor league team is watching to see the players who get the call up to the big leagues throughout the season. This year, the Reading Phillies had their fair share of current and former players that made the trip to Philadelphia. The list includes: Pitchers Tyler Cloyd, B.J. Rosenberg, Jake Diekman, Justin DeFratus, and Phillippe Aumont, catcher Steve Lerud, and outfielder/first baseman Darin Ruf.
7. Performing the National Anthem-Two times during the season, I had the opportunity to perform the National Anthem with my sister, Ariane. We received numerous compliments from both fans and staff members, and it was nice to know that we even surprised some people with how we sounded. The National Anthem is always an important part of any baseball game, and it was a wonderful experience that I hope will occur again in the future.
8. “Plaza Posse” and Wawa Runs- One of my fondest memories from this season is getting to spend time with a group of friends that eventually was dubbed the “plaza posse.” After almost every game we would hang out in the Vist Financial Plaza talking and listening to the post-game concert when there was one. The group would make frequent trips to Wawa and bring back food to make the night even better. It provided some good stress relief and was a great opportunity to spend time with friends at the park.
9. DJ HeyBeef and Mike Cisco- This year Reading Phillies fans got to see a different side of two players. For two postgame concerts a performance was given by DJ HeyBeef, also known as RHP Trevor May. May is the number 1 prospect within the Phillies organization and it was interesting to see how people reacted to his music. He wanted to share a hobby that was unrelated to baseball, and the fans embraced his music. Both nights the plaza was packed with fans and teammates dancing and cheering. Mike Cisco, a relief pitcher for the Reading Phillies and Lehigh Valley IronPigs, performed some original country songs and played guitar during a postgame concert. Most fans would not have guessed that he would be a country music fan and it was also nice to see him willing to share one of his hobbies with people he does not know all that well. One of the best things was seeing the rest of the team at each of the concerts to show their support and maybe offer a little playful heckling.
10. Opening Night Doubleheader- Opening Day brings a certain amount of excitement with it each season. Fans are ready to head back to the ballpark and cheer on the newest crop of players along with some familiar faces. The 2012 opening night brought with it twice the amount of excitement as the Reading Phillies played a doubleheader against the Portland Sea Dogs. With double the amount of baseball, fans were given a great chance to preview what was to come in the next five months, and they were not disappointed. The R-Phils opened the season with a doubleheader sweep that kickstarted a strong month of April. It also gave the staff a chance to work in all the special between-innings shenanigans and get the fans excited to see what might happen each night.
Well it was difficult to narrow down the top moments and memories from this past season, but I think I picked the best ones. It was a season that was filled with both excitement and disappointment and I am glad to say that I was a part of it. Although the season is over, keep checking back for more insight from this intern. There are plenty of stories left to tell!