Camden Courier Post - October 25, 1980

World Series joke making name for itself


By Julie Busby of the Courier-Post


WASHINGTON TWP. – First there were "Phillies Franks."


Then the "Tug" boat McGraw.


So how about Paul Owens, New Jersey?


This Gloucester County community of nearly 30,000 residents has been looking for a new name for the past decade. (New Jersey has six Washington Townships.)


And now that the Philadelphia Phillies have captured the 1980 World Series title, the town is tossing around ways of honoring its favorite local resident – Phillies general manager Paul (The Pope) Owens.


"I just threw it out kind of tongue-in-cheek and there were a couple of sick grins," said local carpet store owner and Phillies fan, Oscar Ostroff.


"But you never know, this town has been looking for another name for a long time."


Ostroff said the township committee has already agreed to support a celebration honoring Owens sometime in late November.


"There will be no exclusions, every baseball fan will be entitled to participate. We want to do it in an unusual way," said the 67-year-old Ostroff, who claims his "day is shot" when the Phillies lose a game.


Owens said he was flattered by talk of naming a town after him and felt honored that the local Phillies fans planned to hold a celebration for him.


"I haven't really heard anything of that order," he said, reacting to the name change proposal. "... I've lived in this area for 15 years, it's home to me. I love my home and I love the people here. I feel very honored."


Ostroff, who is a member of the local Rotary Club and chairman of the commercial-industrial committee, said he is seeking suggestions and assistance from baseball fans for the best way to bring frenzied Phillies fever to the festivities.


Gov. Brendan T. Byrne has been asked to serve as honorary chairman of the event and several Phillies players may participate.


Township committeeman and county freeholder Clifford Burtoft suggested jokingly that the town might consider having its mailing address Paul Owens, New Jersey, for about a month and then perhaps Mike Schmidtville for awhile.


"I think it would be a darling idea for about 30 days," he said with a laugh. "It's cute."