Phillies equipment truck on way to spring training
Cardboard boxes, plastic tubs and duffel bags are not the usual images of the Phillies.
But at Citzens Bank Park this morning, those were the items that represented the team.
The Phillies loaded up their equipment truck today for its two-day trek to Florida for spring training. Pitchers and catchers report Feb. 13, and the full squad arrives three days later.
The 53-foot-long truck contains "everything that a player will need in spring training," said Dan O'Rourke, manager of equipment and umpire services.
That includes 2,400 baseballs, 2,000 t-shirts, 1,200 bats, 600 pairs of pants, 450 pairs of socks, 350 pairs of shorts, 200 fleeces, 150 pairs of batting gloves, 15 cases of gum and other items.
The basement loading area was jammed this morning with moving carts stacked with U-Haul boxes and Major League Baseball bags. There were boxes of videos labeled "FRAGILE!!" and clear plastic bins of books, with titles from George Washington and Frank Sinatra biographies to Jeffrey Eugenides' "Middlesex." Desks and bicycles made it on. So did weight-training machines adorned with signs of "ON THE TRUCK PLEASE!"
The team places its orders for equipment through the winter, and the goods start arriving shortly after the New Year. For O'Rourke, the key item is the players' uniforms, which just arrived Tuesday.
"When you see those and the truck, you know spring's in the air," he said.
And today, more than twenty workers packed up everything for Florida, where the truck will be unloaded Friday morning.
"We're doing this in record time," one packer cheered a little more than an hour and a half into the loading.
It takes a bit of logistics skill to get everything in.
"We only have 53 feet," O'Rourke said. "We have to pack it as tight as possible."
Inside the truck, workers stood on a ladder to stack items and strap in boxes, some stacked a half-dozen high. The crew shuffled materials around and the basement hummed with workers' cries of "everything's out," the buzz of forklifts hoisting materials, and clanks and thuds as equipment and boxes made their way into the truck.
After two and half hours, the final items -- a bright red suitcase with a red and white tassle on the handle and a shoebox-sized container -- were tossed in.
The Phanatic arrived to see everything off. He banged on the side of the truck, and pointed toward the exit. And he wanted to go, too, climbing on to the truck's bed in hopes of hitching a ride.
The truck started rolling. After a few minutes, the Phanatic hopped off. But the truck continued, a few feet into its 1,058-mile trip to spring training.