TOURING BOWMAN FIELD
Forget about walkaround concourses and suites: this is a place with real box seats (four to a box), reserved seats no farther than seven rows from the field, and a covered grandstand with bleacher seating and a small press box. Named for J. Walter Bowman, a local baseball enthusiast whose support was key in getting the ballpark built in the first place, Bowman Field was the long-time home of the Williamsport Grays of the original NY-Pennsylvania League, now the Class AA Eastern League.
The ballpark is also a testament to perseverance in the form of a community unwilling to give up baseball despite some huge setbacks. It was community contributions that got the ballpark built in the first place. When 1936 floods threatened to shut down the Grays’ season, the WPA and the community stepped in with labor and funding to rebuild the damaged areas of the ballpark. Flooding reappeared as a hazard in the 1940s, but parent Detroit Tigers stepped in with $40,000 for repairs and seats from Briggs Stadium. (Williamsport tended to benefit from the largesse of parent teams: lights from the recently demolished Polo Grounds were installed at Bowman Field by the New York Mets in 1964.) By the late 1950s parts of the grandstand and bleachers were condemned and professional baseball fled the area; the ballpark was in such bad shape that Little League Baseball, Inc., turned it down as a straight donation from the city because it needed such extensive renovations.
The city once again rallied, raising funds for ballpark renovations and bringing back pro ball in 1958. It was a short-term rally; pro baseball left once again, and Bowman Field was left without a pro tenant until 1987, after extensive renovations made it attractive for short-season A ball. More work was done on the ballpark in the 1990s and this decade, and the Crosscutters ended up with a Phillies affiliation.
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