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Official Review by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
Contrary to popular belief, there are TWO historic baseball stadiums located in the Central Pennsylvania town of Williamsport. The first is Lamade Stadium, which has hosted the Little League World Series since 1959. The other is Bowman Field, the fourth oldest minor league baseball stadium still in use. It has hosted baseball since 1926, trailing only Rickwood Field in Birmingham, Bosse Field in Evansville, and Centennial Field in Burlington Vermont in years of service. Over the years, it has been the home field for area colleges, semi-pro teams and its current tenant, the Williamsport Crosscutters of the New York-Penn League. The team is affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies.
This is truly one of the classic old-style ballparks, as it features brick walls, a large grandstand roof, outfield fences covered with the names of local merchants and seats as close to the action as possible. It seats approximately 4,000 people, and it usually is easy to get a ticket. The Crosscutters typically take a long road trip during the two-week period when the Little League World Series is in town.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
Expect the usual ballpark fare of hamburgers, hot dogs and peanuts, AND expect a line at the concession stand also, as there are only two in the ballpark. The good news is that the prices range from $2-$3 for a hamburger or hot dog up to about $4 for a barbecue sandwich. Another reason for the lengthy lines is that several ticket packages include food in the deal. Beers featured include Coors, Labatt's Blue and Budweiser at $6. Along the third base line, there is a party deck called Cutters Cove to enjoy a cold beverage with your friends.
Expect old-style baseball without a lot of bells and whistles. The game is the central focus, as modern "enhancements" of music, endless advertising on the PA system, and massive scoreboards have not invaded this classic park. Seating is tight on aluminum benches with backs and some box seats. The grandstand roof protects about 50 percent of the seats from the glaring sun or inclement weather. As you enter the stadium through the main gate, you will enter a well laid out plaza with a food court, player autograph booth and the gift shop. The team has done a great job of integrating the logger theme without going overboard (i.e., the souvenir stand is The Sawmill).
Bowman Park is located in a rural area just outside the Williamsport city limits near the banks of Lycoming Creek, which at times has overflowed into the park during floods over the last 90 years. On the other side of the stadium is a small residential neighborhood, with a nice view of the mountains in the distance. Simply said, it is a beautiful place to enjoy a ballgame on a summer day.
The fans here are very supportive of the team. It is a blue-collar town, and both players and fans know each other on a first name basis. They do not have to be prompted electronically to begin stomping their feet or clapping their hands to get a rally going. It is typically a hometown crowd, although the neighboring State College Spikes fans do travel well in a good-natured rivalry. Fans are respectful of their neighbors, waiting until a between inning break to go to the concession stand or restroom. The team also has set aside a family friendly section where no alcohol can be sold.
The home of the Crosscutters is easy to reach, as it is located just off State Highway 15, the main road through Williamsport. There are plenty of directional signs to the Bowman Field once you enter town. Parking is free, and the friendly local police force helps make re-entry onto the highway after the game a snap.
Bowman Field earns the highest rating in this section, as their food prices, tickets and special packages really make it possible for a local family of four on a tight income to attend games on a regular basis. Individual tickets are $9 tops, and several ticket packages will include free admission on specific nights. Just two examples: Members of the "Senior Loggers" (age 60 or older) get free admission to all Sunday home games, a meal voucher and early entry into the stadium, all for a one-time $15 membership fee. Kids in the "knothole gang" receive free admission on all Monday and Thursday games, and a free meal combo in return for their $15 membership fee. Add to that the free parking and the Crosscutters offer a value that is hard to beat.
Even though Bowman Field is a minor league destination, a visit to the nearby Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum is a must-see attraction while you are in town. The museum adjoins the complex where the Little League World Series is held, and you can take a self-guided tour of the facility and relive your own childhood memories of Little League stardom. The museum is $5 for adults and $2 for children, and is well worth it. Just follow the Little League signs (they are everywhere!) to the museum/stadium, which is also on Highway 15.
Member Review by collegiatestdms
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.
Member Review by FuriousShepherd on Jan 24, 2012
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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