Williamsport is probably most famous in the baseball world for being the home of the Little League World Series. However, it is also home to historic Bowman Field, a classic, old school stadium that is a true landmark of America's pastime, located in a town as throwback as the field.
How many parks can claim that Babe Ruth played there or even Nolan Ryan! Or simply, how many parks offer free parking, have free attendance nights and then have buy one get one free soda and half priced beer the same night as the free attendance!
The field was originally named Memorial Field and was opened in 1926 at a cost of $75,000. The original dimensions were monstrous, with right field being 376 feet; center was 450 feet and left field 400 feet. Three years later the name of the field was changed to Bowman Field, after J. Walton Bowman, the original owner of the team. Lights were added in 1932 and in 1934 a "temporary" fence was erected to shorten the outfield dimensions.
By the time World War II was over, baseball was gone from Bowman Field and the stadium became so dilapidated that the State declared parts of it condemned so the city of Williamsport tried to give the field to Little League Baseball, who turned them down. Eventually funds were raised to repair the stadium in 1957 and the New York Mets had their farm team play there starting in 1964. In 1964, the lights from the Polo grounds were installed to replace the original lights from 1932 and lasted until 1987.
Once the Mets moved the farm team, the stadium sat dormant for most of the years throughout the 1970's and 1980's, falling into disrepair once again. The city thought they were going to get the Phillies AAA team in 1987 and spent over a half-million dollars to refurbish the stadium yet again, only to lose out on the team. The left field bleachers were also torn down in 1987, and a deck area was built instead, reducing capacity from around 5,000 to 4,200. Despite losing out on the AAA team, Williamsport has managed to have a class AA or short season class A team every year since 1987 and the park is as healthy as ever.
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You aren't going to get anything flashy at a Crosscutters game. In fact, be happy that you can just get some standard ballpark food, but you aren't going to go broke eating either. The lines can be long if you come for one of the free attendance nights, and the concession area is a tight fit like the rest of the park, but I think the reasonable prices more than make up for the shortcomings.
The food options include a country store hot dog ($2), RWB CS Cutter dog ($3), chicken tenders ($3.50), hamburger ($3.50), cheeseburger ($3.75), Boomer's pulled pork sandwich ($4.25), cheese pizza ($3), pepperoni pizza ($3.25), and turkey or ham subs ($5.50). If you just want a snack, they have popcorn ($1.50), peanuts ($3.25), French fries ($3), cotton candy ($2), chips ($1), pretzels ($3.25), cracker jacks ($3.25) and nachos ($3.25). The best part is you can make any main item into a combo with chips and a drink for just $2 extra.
The only other concession stand is on the left field deck and doesn't offer much, but it does have a walking taco ($5), hot sausage ($4) and funnel cake fries ($2.75). There is also a dippin' dots stand ($3.75 & $6.25).
For beverages, they offer coffee and cappuccino ($1.25), 20oz bottles of Pepsi soda products, lemonade, brisk iced tea and Aquafina water for ($2.25), Gatorade ($2.75) and slush puppies ($3.25). Beer prices vary by brand, with Genesse being $3.50 for 20oz, $5.50 for 32oz and $4.50 for a 22oz souvenir cup. Other brands included Coors, Coors Light, Killian's Irish Red and Labatt Blue for $4.25, $6.50 or $5.25 for the same sizes as the Genesse.
The atmosphere was fantastic. Cheers were loud, well timed and didn't have to rely on the stadium announcer. Between inning entertainment was very unique and entertaining. Some games played included a stuffed pony race and a game where you had to use the air in a balloon to knock cups off of a table. Advertisements were kept to a real minimum, and I thought having a kid carry a card like a ring girl, to announce the number of the upcoming inning was inventive.
The in-stadium music they did play was very different compared to your average ballpark with such non-hits as Napoleon XIV's "They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa" and Michael Jackson's "Beat It."
As I mentioned earlier, it is a very old town, with not much to do. You aren't going to find any sort of corporate restaurants or bars, outside of a McDonald's a few miles away. What you will find is a lot of "mom and pop" stores with ok service and great food. I suggest DiSalvo's Pasta if you want something from a nice, sit-down Italian restaurant. If you are looking to have a beer with your meal, there are two great places, Bullfrog Brewery and Rumrunners Pub & Eatery. You can't go wrong with either in my opinion.
The fans were very into the game. Not so much through pumped in music, but more so with old school, true enthusiasm for the game. Due to the tight nature of the seating and concourses, people really seemed to stay in their seats and actually watch the action.
The people themselves were a good mix of younger families and older, retiree-aged adults. I really enjoyed talking to some of the long time ticket holders, people who could tell me about 50 or 60 years' worth of the stadium history.
Once a good portion of the crowd left toward the end of the 13-12 barnburner that I attended, the crowd got real lively, with real loud chants and just about everyone who was able, stomping on the bleachers. It was quite the scene, something I have never seen at a baseball game; more of a collegiate softball atmosphere.
The positives: free parking, easy to find your seat and plenty of handicapped seating. The negatives: very hard to move around when the stadium is full and the netting only covers up to the on deck circle, so you have to really pay attention for foul balls and the occasional flying bat. The dugouts are well down the lines, past the first and third base bags and the bullpens are in foul ground past the dugouts, a design that lets you feel the history.
Even if you don't come on a free night, tickets are $5.75 for adult general admission ($4.50 for kids) or you can "splurge" for the reserved box seats ($7.50) to take in a game at this historic park. Combine that with the free parking and the low prices at the concession stands and you couldn't ask for anything more. Sure, you aren't going to see some high priced entertainment between innings, but are you at the game for the actual game or some dog that can catch a Frisbee?
They have the standard kids' area with blow up fun items, where you can play for $1 each or buy an all-game pass for $5. The kids' area only has 2-3 items, but they sure seemed to be enjoying themselves none-the-less. An extra point for just honoring the history of the stadium and not worrying about trying to build a new park just to keep up with the other towns with Minor League teams. Final extra point is for being an open Wi-Fi location with plenty of bandwidth for everyone.
If you call yourself a fan of America's pastime, you have to make a visit to Bowman Field, especially if you enjoy experiencing different parks. I'm honestly not a big baseball fan, but I truly enjoyed my evening in Williamsport. Thankfully I only live about 50 minutes away so I am positive that I will be back soon.
If you get a chance to come here, take it. I really enjoyed the games I've gone to in Williamsport. The fans are great and the stadium is a classic. Parking can be a little tough if you arrive a little late. Take some time and check out Williamsport. It is a great old town with some decent restaurants. It's tough getting a hotel room lately thank to the drilling for natural gas. I visit the area on business about every 6-8 weeks and can rarely get a hotel room. If you try during the Little League World Series, forget staying close to town. Still, this is a beautiful part of the state. Take a drive to the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and read some poetry by Nessmuk.
341 E 4th St
Williamsport, PA 17701
229 W 4th St
Williamsport, PA 17701
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