The new bacon hats are getting all of the attention (and a lot of it) in the regional and national press. But for me, the most interesting new look in the ‘Pigs’ line up this year is the powder-blue/burgundy combo complete with a new alternate logo wedding the Liberty Bell to the local steel industry. From the IronPigs:
“The IronPigs will don a new powder blue and burgundy two-tone Sunday cap this season that connects the rich histories of the Lehigh Valley and Philadelphia regions with a fresh-take on the world-famous Liberty Bell. In this new design, the Bell is suspended by an I-beam, a symbol of the Lehigh Valley’s steelmaking prowess, and features metal rivets to indicate the Bell’s iconic crack. Lehigh Valley residents may also be familiar with the fact that in 1777, the Liberty Bell was hidden in Allentown so that the British army wouldn’t melt it down for munitions. The cap will be worn with the retro mesh IronPigs jersey which was introduced in 2013 to pay homage to the Phillies’ tradition-rich teams of the 1970s and 1980s in which the Phillies went to the postseason in six of eight seasons and won their first World Championship in 1980. “
Frankly, you had me (and always will) at powder blue and burgundy. But there’s something even more interesting and historically important here, which the front office mentions but I’d like to expand on. As many locals know, Allentown, then known as Northampton Town, did indeed hide the Liberty Bell (then known as the State House Bell) from the British during the American Revolution. Specifically, the bell and ten other Philadelphia bells were hidden under the floor boards of Zion’s German Reformed Church (now known as Zion’s Reformed United Church of Christ). Also rendered Zion’s Liberty Bell Church, the site at Church and Hamilton (between 7th and 6th) has housed Allentown’s Liberty Bell Shrine and Museum since 1962.
From Zion’s website (libertybellchurch.org):
“Zion is known as the Liberty Bell Church because in 1777, eleven bells were brought here from Philadelphia for safe‑keeping during the Revolutionary War. Those bells included the State House bell B, now better known as the Liberty Bell. They were hidden under the floor boards on this very site so that the British would not find and melt them to make cannons.
Our Liberty Bell Museum on the lower level of the building commemorates this and other historic events at the church, and houses the Harry S. Trexler Portraits of Freedom collection as well as changing exhibits. Because of its historical importance, Zion is on the National Register of Historic Places.”
As the tour guides at Zion’s will tell you, the Liberty Bell did not become “The Liberty Bell” for another 80 years after the colonies were liberated from Great Britain. Seizing upon the message emblazoned across the bell (Proclaim LIBERTY throughout all the Land unto all the Inhabitants thereof), abolitionists in the 19th century made it a symbol in the fight to end slavery and a reminder of the degree to which we’d failed as a body politic to proclaim the ideals of the revolution in their fullest, truest sense.
It’s not often that the cities respectively hosting a big league club and their top affiliate have this kind of connection in terms of history, iconography, and branding. I’ll be sporting the new hat (reserved by the ‘Pigs, of course, for Sundays) in proud support of my city and the role it played in preserving one of liberty’s greatest symbols.