Summer of Baseball: Williamsport is a throwback
There’s something to be said about an old baseball park.
If you are a fan of the game, it’s definitely the way to go to watch. It’s a throwback of sorts. Many of you know that during my newspaper career, I covered a minor league baseball team. It was short-season Single A (so about a 72-game schedule, if I remember right) and I only covered the home games, so it wasn’t a full beat, so to speak.
But it was covering professional baseball during the summer.
The team played at an old, rickety ballpark built decades and decades ago. The team was bought in the 1960s by a group of locals and was still owned by two of them when I covered them. One was the figure head, the other was a partner who didn’t like to say much. Both were classy gentlemen. They were baseball people, though.
And that’s what it was about – watching baseball. But the stadium for those who weren’t fans of nostalgia and such usually didn’t like things much. No beer was served (one of only a couple teams who didn’t sell beer), there weren’t many on-field promotions and the mascot wasn’t always around.
It was baseball.
I’m a fan of such stadiums, usually. But I’m also one who still keeps a scorecard at each game, so I’m a little different as it is.
The team I used to cover was in the New York-Penn League, where older stadiums used to be a mainstay. In this day and age and as minor league baseball becomes a bit more mainstream, teams are looking for better and more current parks.
So getting to see some of these old stadiums is a must for me. They might all be a little rickety and such, but there’s the baseball feel. Bowman Field still maintains an ambiance like that, though there are parts that make it a little tougher.
Let’s take a look at the park.
Bowman Field in Williamsport – for now – has stood the test of time. Built in 1926, it’s an old park in every sense of the word. There are pillars to sometimes peek around and the seating setup is that of an older park. It’s not to say it’s awful, but choosing your seat can definitely give you a better feel of the park. One set of bleachers, down the right-field line, wasn’t open. I spoke to one usher who noted that section had been closed for as long as he could remember.
It made me wonder why.
The press box is at the top of the stands behind the plate and is quite small. The safety netting goes around quite a bit of the field to save the crowd, which is fine. But, for whatever reason, the netting seemed to be a bit thicker than other places I’ve seen it.
The dugouts are also in a non-traditional spot as they are further down each line. That, of course, makes it a longer stroll for the players as they come to bat or head out onto the field.
The field, itself, has the feel of an older one. The advertising boards in the outfield seem to fit a nostalgic stadium, and the rest of the aura made me feel like we went slightly back in time. Parking is available for free, or in one part, for a fee. People cram into the area for parking though, which definitely give an old NY-Penn League feel.
The sight lines are OK, but there are beams, of course, if under the grandstand. If I ever went back to watch a game, I think I’d make sure I got one of the closer box seats as I believe it would be a lot better to watch a game from there.
The concessions seemed decent. We had eaten at a brew pub before coming to the game, so I didn’t dabble in much. The beer selection was on the weaker side and the hot dog I had was of normal ballpark feel and taste. The souvenir store was actually pretty solid for a small team and I walked away with a t-shirt.
It’s a stadium I’ve long wanted to see and I’m glad I had the chance to see it.
Home of the Williamsport Crosscutters (Short-season A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies)
Visited on: July 5, 2014.
Opponents: Auburn Doubledays (Short-season A affiliate of the Washington Nationals)
Ratings (out of 10):
- Stadium: 7
- Concessions: 7
- Parking: 7
- Ambiance: 8
- Friendliness: 9
I am embarking on a summer of baseball with the plan to hit a minimum of 10 stadiums this summer. Hopefully, there will be more than that. I will report on each park that I hit on the blog.
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