On the Road: Boomer Looms and Love Blooms in Williamsport

Wport_scoreboard.JPGI spent yesterday evening at 59-year-old FirstEnergy Stadium in Reading, but that facility is a veritable spring chicken compared to that which can be found approximately two hours north.

Bowman Field, the home of the Williamsport Crosscutters, opened its doors in 1926. The 84-year-old facility is second only to Vermont’s Centennial Field in the category of “oldest Minor League Baseball stadium”, and it remains an excellent place in which to wile away one’s leisure hours.

Or one’s professional hours, as was the case for me on Monday. I arrived at Bowman about an hour before game time, after braving a hellacious thunderstorm en route. From the outside, the Stadium looks like a place that Bowser might call home.

Sorry, Mario, but the Princess is in another castle:


The entrance leads into a concourse of sorts, featuring a concession area, the team store, and the Kid’s Zone:


From there, a narrow ramp leads directly into the seating area. It’s a very simple set-up: a covered grandstand comprises the bulk of the seating, with several rows of box seats soon giving way to bleachers. A separate bleacher seating area is located down the first base line, while down the third base line is an additional concession area and the “Cutters Cove” party area.

When I arrived, ‘Cutters director of marketing Gabe Sinicropi was just about to begin his nightly on-field pre-game show. The guest on this evening was Kelly Mazzante, a WNBA veteran from the Williamsport area:


As a prominent local female, Mazzante was an appropriate guest given that the evening’s promotion was “Girl’s Night Out at the Ballpark.” The next pregame activity was a “Belle of the Ballpark” contest, in which five local ladies competed to win a $500 gift certificate from a local jeweler. The judges included 2009’s “Belle of the Ballpark”, a local DJ, and Crosscutters pitcher Bryan Morgado. These were the contestants, shown through the netting because they were all great catches:


Meanwhile, ‘Cutters players took their final warm-up swings in the batting cage located beyond the third base bleachers. As the rules make clear, State College players are not allowed in this area.


The dugouts at Bowman are located far down the base lines, next to (as opposed to in front of) the box seats.


Boomer the mascot has long been one of my favorite costumed characters, and the first time I spied him was when he was leading the belles off of the field:


I tried to work up the nerve to introduce myself, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. What if he didn’t like me? Instead I just gazed at him from afar:






That man in the yellow shirt is Rhashan West-Bey, the Crosscutters “Director of Smiles.” He is perhaps the most well-known figure in the ballpark, an ebullient individual who greets the fans, leads them in cheers, and serves as an all-around fountain of positive energy.


The “Girls Night Out” theme continued throughout the evening. All participants in between-inning games and contests were female, player headshots featured conspicuous lipstick marks, and Beyonce was heard over the PA on many, many occasions.

(And speaking of that which was heard over the PA, at one point Fergie’s “London Bridge (Oh Snap)” blasted through the loudspeakers. Except for one problem — it wasn’t the “Oh Snap” version, and instead another four-letter s-word was heard repeatedly. That was an unfortunate mistake, but to me the most offensive aspect of the song is the extent to which Fergie is ripping off the far superior Missy Elliot.)

But inadvertent ballpark profanity paled in comparison to the evening’s considerable charms, such as the cross-dressing ways of “Lynette” the peanut vendor:


Watching a ballgame, 1926 style:



The home team won, 3-2, and celebration ensued:



This carpet mascot approved of the outcome:


And with everyone in a good mood, it was time for some romance! “Girls Night Out” continued with a post-game party at the ‘Cutters Cove, highlighted by speed dating with the players:




The sparks didn’t seem to be flying on this Monday evening, however, with the exception of pitcher David Buchanan and this young lady. They talked for at least 30 seconds beyond their allotted one minute together:


As those two lovebirds got lost in each other’s eyes, the Director of Smiles took it upon himself to start a dance party:


The Macarena followed shortly thereafter:


Soon all the ladies had disappeared from the floor, and the night ended with Rhashan and the players two-steppin’ the night away. I got the feeling that this was a common occurrence.

From here on out, everything was a blur:



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