Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bowman Field, Williamsport PA

Basic Information
Team: Williamsport Crosscutters (New York-Penn League)
Game: 7/20/13-Crosscutters vs Lowell Spinners
Team Website: www.crosscutters.com
Ticket Information: (570) 326-3389 or www.crosscutters.com
Tourism Information: (800) 358-9900 or www.vacationpa.com
Online Broadcasts: www.crosscutters.com
Local Newspaper: Williamsports Sun Gazette www.sungazette.com

Team History: Nestled in the rolling hills of north central Pennsylvania, the city of Williamsport has hosted baseball since the early part of the 20th century, when clubs named the Millionaires, Billies, Grays, and Tigers made "Bill-Town" home. The most recent portion of pro baseball history in Williamsport started in 1987, when the Cleveland Indians placed their "AA" affiliate at Bowman Field. That team lasted until 1990, when the Bills moved to Hagerstown, MD. The Eastern League quickly moved their foundering Pittsfield (MA) franchise to Williamsport as an affiliate of the New York Mets. After two more years, the Mets moved the "new" Bills to a brand new stadium in Binghamton, NY. After a three year hiatus, the Chicago Cubs moved their affiliate in the single-A New York-Penn League to Bowman Field. The Cubs stayed in Williamsport until 1998, when the Pittsburgh Pirates took over, and renamed the team the Crosscutters. The Philadelphia Phillies took over the affiliation in 2007.

Affiliation: The Crosscutters are the short season A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Seating Capacity: Bowman Field has a seating capacity of 4,200.

How About That Name (And Some History): "Historic" Bowman Field was opened in 1926 when the Williamsport Grays started play in the New York-Penn League. The park was named for local booster J. Walton Bowman, who was a part owner of the Grays. This New York-Penn League is not to be confused with the current league in which the Crosscutters play. The "original" league was the precursor to the current Eastern League.

Bowman was beginning to show its age when pro baseball returned in 1994. Fortunately, the city fathers decided to help renovate and improve Bowman field, and in the almost 20 seasons since 1994, the park has undergone twelve renovations, which included a complete renovation of the concourse, expansion and renovations to the clubhouses, a new scoreboard, and a picnic deck. These renovations have turned Bowman Field into a true jewel of minor league baseball.

Other Tenants: None at this time, but for a short span in the winter of 2012, professional ice hockey was played at Bowman Field. A temporary rink was set up along the first base line for the Williamsport Outlaws of the Federal Hockey League. The Outlaws encountered some financial issues during that first season, and the rink was repossessed by the company that built it, and the team folded soon after.

Getting There: Take Interstate 80 to Route 220 North into Williamsport. Take the Fourth St. exit. Follow for approximately four miles. Historic Bowman Field will be on your left.

On The Town: With a population of just under thirty thousand, Williamsport is the largest city in Lycoming County. Williamsport is located in the northern part of Pennsylvania, just over 230 miles east of Youngstown, OH and 85 miles north of Harrisburg. The city is serviced by three major
highways: Interstates 80 and 180 and US route 220.

Incorporated in 1806, Williamsport was at one time known as the "Lumber Capital of the World", due to the town's thriving lumber industry. At the same time, it was the home of more millionaires per capita than any place in the United States due to the strength of the timber industry. However, something which has a little connection with timber is probably the best known contribution to American and world culture is Williamport's true "claim to fame".

In 1939, Williamsport resident Carl Stotz started a three team baseball league for boys in the area. The program exploded, and the world famous Little League Baseball program began. Every August, the best little league teams come to Williamsport to find out which is the best program in the world. The focus of children throughout the world is Lamade Stadium, on the south side of Williamsport. Built in 1959, Lamade Stadium seats an incredible 40,000, with the vast majority sitting along the outfield berm. The actual grandstand seats approximately 15,000.

Notable Williamsport natives include former star pitchers Mike "Moose" Mussina and Jamie McAndrew.

Nearby Airport: Williamsport Regional Airport is located just east of downtown Williamsport, but
the largest "major" airport is Harrisburg International Airport.

What To Do Before The Game: Although Linda and I didn't have time on this trip, a visit to the Peter McGovern Museum at the "World of Little League" is a must if you're in the area. The museum tells the story of how the three team circuit became the world wide experience that it is today. For more information, call (570) 326-3607 or visit www.littleleague.org.

Where To Eat Before the Game: There wasn't much in the immediate area of the ballpark, but there were several chain, local, and fast food restaurants on W 3rd St, near our hotel.

Where To Stay: On this trip, we stayed at the team's official hotel, the excellent Best Western Williamsport. Located ten minutes from Bowman Field, this property, while not particularly large, had everything you could need. The hotel had large, up to date sleeping rooms, a complimentary hot breakfast, an outdoor pool, and a TGI Friday's restaurant on site. While the room was a bit more than we would normally pay (the final bill was a little over a hundred dollars), the excellent service and quality accommodations were well worth the cost. For more information, call (570) 326-1981 or visit www.bwwilliamsport.com.

Ticket Prices: Crosscutters tickets are priced as follows: $8.00 (reserved box), $6.00 (general admission), and $5.00 (children 5-12 and seniors).

Parking: Bowman Field has a large grass lot adjacent to the grandstand, which costs $2.00 to utilize.

The Good Seats: The majority of the seating at Bowman Field is under a large covered grandstand which runs from first base to third base. This grandstand has 16 rows of seats, five of which are flip down seats, and the remaining are standard backless bleachers. While the bleachers can be a little rough on the spine, they give a good view of the action.

Getting In: During one of the many renovations of the park, Bowman Field received a face lift which included a new entrance rotunda and concourse. The main rotunda features the ticket window, and after entering, has the souvenir store and the customer service booth.

Ballpark Food: While Bowman Field will not be confused with Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park for their concession lineup, what the 'Cutters do sell is of a fairly good quality and of an agreeable price.

Linda sampled the pulled pork sandwich, and said it was quite good, and definitely worth the price (I believe it was $5.00). I had two hot dogs, and while they were pre-made, they were pretty tasty but could have been served a little warmer. The team also serves a bucket of French fries with Old Bay seasoning, and Hersheys' ice cream.

Here is a sampling of the Bowman Field concession prices:

Hot Dog: $2.00   Hamburger: $3.00   Nachos: $3.50   Draft Beer: $6.50   Pretzel: $3.25   Bottled Soda: $2.50   Ice Cream: Various Prices   French Fries: $3.00   Pizza Slice: $3.25

ATM: There is an ATM located in "the Sawmill" merchandise store.

Souvenirs: "The Sawmill", located just inside the main entrance on the first base side of the concourse, has a nice sized line of merchandise in a well organized store.

Restrooms: Located just under the grandstand behind home plate, they are clean and serviceable.

Mascot: "Boomer" is a large blue furry animal of an unknown species.

Program: The 'Cutters game night program is packed with information about the team and the history of the club, and for $2.50, a good deal.

Scoreboard/Stadium Voice: Bowman Field has a average-sized scoreboard in right center field, which provided the basic game information, and had a smaller board above it which was used for promotions, player information, and the like.
It was "Irish Heritage" Night at Bowman Field the day we attended, and through the entire game, Irish-themed music was played and the PA announcer spoke an Irish accent. It had to make you chuckle a little bit.

Stadium Staff: Despite the steamy temperatures, everyone I encountered at the park was more than helpful and friendly.

Atmosphere: A decent sized crowd of about two thousand attended the game, and despite the 'Cutters not playing up to snuff, it was a lively gathering.

Overall Rating: A wonderful old ballpark which has stood the test of time, Bowman Field will hopefully serve the good folks of Williamsport for years to come. A pleasant drive, great hotel, and a positive ballpark experience...yup, it was a good weekend.