The Fightin Phils have served as the Double-A affiliate for the Philadelphia Phillies since 1967, forging the longest-running affiliate partnership in baseball, not counting the ancient business relationship between groundskeepers and chalk purveyors. Many Phillies stars have matriculated through the Fightin Phils clubhouse and made contributions to the Phillies' World Series wins in 1980 and 2008. The Phils have also enjoyed their own share of sandlot glory, seizing Eastern League titles in 1968, 1973, 1995, and 2001.
Built in 1951, the team's stadium, FirstEnergy Stadium, serves as the oldest home field in the Eastern League. Along with a lineup of characters featuring a frog, dog, and bear, the Fightin Phils' mascots include a pair of live ostriches and the Crazy Hot Dog Vendor?a striped-vested madman astride his faithful ostrich Rodrigo, who runs around the infield as the Vendor throws souvenirs into the stands.
The Sovereign Performing Arts Center has been a part of Reading since 1870, and has played many roles in that time. Built as a market, with a Masonic Temple on the upper floors and a bird university on the roof, it soon became the Academy of Music. Then, in 1917, the Rajah Shriners purchased the facility and turned it into a venue for vaudeville, motion pictures, and live appearances, laying the foundation for its current incarnation. Decades later, the Berks County Convention Center Authority purchased the Rajah Theater and treated it to a $7 million renovation, including a new air-conditioning system and more comfortable seating.