April 06, 2005

R-Phils receive royal welcome

Chris Roberson, pictured, and the 2005 Reading Phillies have embarked on a whirlwind week that included the annual King of Baseballtown Banquet Monday, followed by media day this afternoon. The season gets underway Thursday at First Energy Stadium.

The Berks Phillies Fan was on hand as community leaders and fans welcomed the 2005 team to town Monday, to support Baseballtown Charities, and to crown former major leaguer Dick Gernert King of Baseballtown.

Gernert, a Reading native, spent 11 seasons in the big leagues beginning his rookie year with the Red Sox in 1952. He went on to a long career in baseball that ended in 2000 as an advanced scout for the New York Mets.

As for the players, I heard secondhand their plane had arrived from Florida just hours earlier, but were in great spirits as they mingled with fans and signed autographs. The only baseball-related item I brought was Baseball America's minor league preview, so I snagged a couple of autographs and snapped a couple pictures.

Among them was Baseball America's No. 5 prospect Michael Bourn. The center fielder is making the jump from Lakewood this season and told me he wasn't surprised to be in Reading. Bourn is an absolute burner and stole 58 bases last season, and the organization is very high on him.

Michael Bourn

Sitting next to him at dinner was another speedy prospect, Chris Roberson, who joins Bourn in what promises to be an excellent outfield that also includes veteran fan favorite Jim Deschaine. Deschaine has a great rapport with fans and teammates and drew a big crowd happy to have him back in town.

Jim Deschaine

Juan Richardson is also back this season at third base, along with shortstop Danny Gonzalez. Also of note, veteran infielder Alex Prieto, who played last season in Minnesota, joins the ballclub.

The official media day will be held today at noon at First Energy Stadium.

For the rest of the 2005 roster, check it out at readingphillies.com.


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