Phillies player Ryan Howard visits Cheltenham ShopRite to promote Philabundance
By Meghan Ross
Cheltenham residents hoping to cross off a few items on their grocery list June 21 may have crossed something off their bucket list, as well: meeting Phillies player Ryan Howard.
The first baseman paid a visit to Cheltenham Square’s ShopRite to greet customers, hand out a few autographed baseballs and promote the supermarket’s upcoming third annual food drive to benefit Philabundance, the largest hunger relief organization in the Delaware Valley.
During an interview, Howard said he encouraged the public to participate in the ShopRite Partners in Caring and Phillies Food Drive, which will take place at the Phillies vs. Braves game July 7 at Citizens Bank Park.
“I’m trying to come out and have some fun and bring out the smiles and try to make the grocery store go crazy,” added Howard during his first visit to Cheltenham.
It’s not the first time fans have flocked to Howard during a visit to a supermarket.
“It’s interesting — when I go shopping by my house, I get my stuff and people are always excited. And sometimes they’re surprised to see you, but it’s like you gotta eat too,” he said.
Howard said his own fridge is usually stocked with water (“I always have to stay hydrated”), cold cuts and breakfast food.
During his hour-long visit, the Phillies player also took to the PA system to make some sales pitches.
“Attention shoppers, this is Ryan Howard,” his voice boomed. “On sale we have classic dill pickles. Two for $4. You heard me right. Classic dill pickles in Aisle Seven. Get it while it’s hot.”
When store director Ron Carr stopped by the PA desk to jokingly ask what was going on, Howard told him he was just “trying to get these sales going,” as he looked on at a list of newspaper coupons.
“These deals just don’t stop,” he said playfully, after name dropping a brand of cheese for $1.88.
Howard also inquired over the PA system if any student was carrying a report card, and when a girl presented hers, Howard called her honor roll achievements impressive.
The crowd gathered in front of the PA desk Howard had commandeered also answered trivia questions like what year the Phillies won the World Series and what year Howard was drafted by Philadelphia.
“Don’t Google it!” he warned the audience members, who were decked out in Phillies gear.
Jacob Sterman, 9, was one of the lucky winners to receive an autographed baseball for correctly answering “2008” to Howard’s question about the year the Phillies won the World Series.
Glenside Elementary students Jacob, his little sister Tabitha, 6, and friend Joey Weimer, 9, said they were big fans of Howard’s and were planning on going to the Phillies game that Sunday. The three described the experience as “awesome.”
“I was really happy to win the autographed ball,” Jacob said.
Myers Elementary School student Jayden Morene, 10, was another winner of an autographed baseball.
Jayden’s mother, Kamilah, said they had heard about the event through a friend who knew that Jayden was a huge Phillies fan.
“I met him [Howard] before and told him about Jayden and he was like oh my god, he sounds like a great kid,” Kamilah said. “So I was looking at my phone, trying to show him pictures so he’d remember.”
After pushing her to take him to ShopRite so he could potentially meet one of his idols, Kamilah said she was happy her son got one of Howard’s autographed baseballs.
“It paid off,” Jayden said with a grin and a baseball in hand.