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PN Interview w/ Cameron Rupp: ‘Ruppapalooza’ supports animal welfare

It’s been a season to forget for the Phillies. They’re the worst team in baseball and a mind-boggling 25.5 games behind the Washington Nationals in the National League East. However, since the all star break, the Phillies haven’t been as atrocious, playing to an even 6-6 record, in large part to two series wins against the Marlins and Brewers.

One of the key contributors in the mini hot streak has been catcher Cameron Rupp, who has been tearing the cover off the ball lately. In his last 13 games he’s slashing .357/.438/.714 with four home runs and eight RBI. His OPS in that stretch is 1.152.

But without another game to build on Thursday, Rupp hosted “Ruppapalooza,” a joint effort with the PSPCA at Morgan’s Pier in Philadelphia. It was a night of raffles, games and music to support the PSPCA’s mission of saving animals’ lives. The Phillies’ backstop is an animal lover himself and an owner three dogs: Frito, Beau and Chief, and had been plotting the event for a while.

Cameron Rupp at “Ruppapalooza.”

“It was my idea,” Rupp said. “Last year, Gillian Kocher (director of public relations and marketing) of the PSPCA approached me at the last ‘Bark in the Park,’ and I was down playing with the dogs before the game, and she asked if I wanted to develop a relationship and start something with them. Throughout the offseason we kept in touch a little bit, and then spring training came around and I talked to some of the people at my agency and we spearheaded this. Hopefully it can be an annual thing.”

Rupp has always been an animal lover, particularly dogs, ever since he could remember. He grew up with a dog back home in Texas. When he was in college, he adopted the first of his three dogs, Frito.

“I’ve always been an animal lover, a dog lover especially,” the Phillies’ catcher said. “I have three at home and I really enjoy the love that they show. It doesn’t matter how mad you are at them or how long you’re gone, they’re always excited to have you home and they always want to love. I think every animal deserves it.”

Rupp has been with the Phillies since 2013 (drafted by them in 2010) and, over the last three years, has played a more significant role on- and off-field. Born and raised in the Dallas area, Philadelphia is now a part of his life. Rupp always had aspirations of hosting an event like “Ruppapalooza,” but it wasn’t until he attended other player-sponsored events that “Ruppapalooza” became possible.

“It’s really cool,” he said as he looked at the scene of people around him, including several Phillies teammates. “Coming up I got to go to Chase’s events, Cole’s, Chooch’s and Howie’s, and you think about it, ‘Man, I’d really love to do something like this one time.’ And I finally get to. This is my first one. Glad my teammates are here and some of my family is here, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Knapp serves up some drinks as Nick Williams hangs out.

A lot of Rupp’s teammates came out. Tommy Joseph and Andrew Knapp were in attendance, and both served as celebrity bartenders. Nick Williams, Adam Morgan, Aaron Nola, Jerad Eickhoff, Andres Blanco and Cameron Perkins were among the others spotted. Matt Stairs, Pete Mackanin, and General Manager Matt Klentak also were seen. Though the Phillies are 29 games under .500, they still support each other off the field as much as they do on the field.

“It’s awesome,” he said. “We’re not just a team on the field, we’re a team off the field. We support one another and I can’t thank them enough for being here.”

It sure was a great night to have a party, after a Phillies’ 9-0 win that featured six scoreless innings from ace Aaron Nola and two home runs from Rupp. It was his first career multi-homer game.

“It’s a lot more fun,” he said of the event coming off a huge win. “That was a fun game. It was a big night for us and hopefully we can keep it going through the weekend.”

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