Since the 19th century, the game of baseball has captured the imagination of the American public. Evolving from Rounders, a popular 1700s street game for children, baseball became this country’s number-one sport. It is reported that imprisoned Civil War soldiers played baseball to pass the time.
In 1845, a young bank teller, Alexander Cartwright created official baseball rules and by the summer of 1846, the first organized game was played in Elysian Field, Hoboken, New Jersey. Today, professional baseball is played in all over the world, from Japan to Russia – England to Sweden. It seems everyone has fallen in love with this all-American spectator sport.
All across Pennsylvania, outstanding minor league baseball teams attract large audiences who value the family atmosphere and lower ticket and concession prices. Mike Cummings, director of media/public relations for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons commented, "From $2 parking to low priced food, there are great advantages in attending minor league baseball games."
Assistant General Manager, Business Operations Mark Clarke agrees with Cummings and remarked about his team, the Harrisburg Senators, "For $30, you can take a family of four to a game and enjoy refreshments. But one of the most satisfying aspects of minor league games is player accessibility." Fans not only have the opportunity to watch their favorite team members develop into major stars, players are always happy to sign autographs and say hello.
Many famous major league players began their illustrious careers in the minor leagues, like Nolan Ryan who played for the Williamsport Crosscutters, and Larry Brown, a Reading Phillie before moving into the major leagues.
Pack family and friends in the car and check out the exciting action at stadiums throughout Pennsylvania, all easily reached from the Pennsylvania Turnpike.
SCRANTON/WILKES BARRE RED BARONS
The Red Barons, whose parent team is the Philadelphia Phillies, has been a member of the minor International League since 1989. The Red Barons are the only Pennsylvania team in the AAA International League. Last year they finished the season first in the Northern Division with a 78/66 record.
Average attendance stands at well over 400,000 a year for the team, operated by Lackawanna County Stadium’s Chairman Bill Jenkins and managed by Marc Bombard. The 11-year old Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic holds a capacity crowd of 10,800. Regular ticket prices range from $4.50 for bleacher seats to $7 for power boxes. Purchasing a season ticket ($400) saves fans $100 off regular box office prices. The box office can be reached at (570) 969-2255 or at ETM outlets. Log onto the Red Barons’ web site atwww.redbarons.com.
Directions: Take the Turnpike’s Northeastern Extension (I-476 North), exiting at the Wyoming Valley Interchange (#37). Drive north on US Route 81. Exit at #51, and follow the signs to Lackawanna County Stadium.
As the name suggests, the Reading Phillies, who have been in the AA Eastern League since 1967, are affiliated with the Philadelphia Phillies. The team has been in existence since 1933.
The Reading Phillies ended 1999 with a 73/69 record, finishing sixth place in the Eastern League and boasting the best home season ever. The Reading Phillies are owned by Craig Stein and managed by Gary Varsho. The circa 1951 home stadium, formally known as the Reading Municipal Memorial Stadium, is now the GPU Stadium. Additional blue box and red seats have been added for the 2000 season, giving the stadium a crowd capacity of 8,800. Support continues to grow, with current numbers showing over 448,000 people attending Reading Phillies games last year.
Most home games begin between 6:30-7 p.m. weeknights with afternoon games scheduled on weekends. Adult ticket prices range from $4.50 for general admission to $7.50 for blue field box seats. Children ages 5-14 and senior citizens over 62 can enjoy general admission seats for only $3. Fans can save with season tickets that run $345 to $385. The box office can be reached at (610) 375-8469. Ask about Family Nights when special ticket and food pricing is available. The Reading Phillies web site is atwww.readingphillies.com.
Directions: Take the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the Morgantown Interchange (#22), to 176-north, to 422-west. Then take Route 12-east to Route 61 South Exit. The stadium is one block on the right.
The Williamsport Crosscutters, who recently became affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates, have competed in the Eastern League, off and on, since 1923. The Crosscutters enjoyed a 32/44 record in 1999, finishing their season at sixth place in their division.
Paul Velte is the Crosscutters’ principal owner, and famous Pittsburgh Pirates player Curtis Wilkerson returns this year as manager. Home turf for the Williamsport Crosscutters is historic Bowman Field, the second oldest minor league park in America, which is undergoing a $1.5 million renovation. The 4,200 capacity stadium, built in 1926, accommodated over 57,000 fans last season.
Most home games start at 7:05 p.m. Adult ticket prices start at $4 for general admission. Reserved box seats are $5.50, but fans can save money by buying season tickets that range from $190, down to $115. Bonus books tickets are also available. Fans can purchase tickets by calling (570) 326-3389. Log onto the Crosscutters’ web site atwww.crosscutters.com.
Directions: Exit the Turnpike at the Harrisburg-West Shore Interchange (#18), taking Route 15 to Williamsport, crossing the Susquehanna River on the Market Street Bridge. Turn left at the second set of lights onto West Fourth Street. Bowman Field is on the right.
The Harrisburg Senators, affiliated with the Montreal Expos, have played baseball since 1924 and have been a member of the AA Eastern League for 13 consecutive years.
The Senators finished last season as Eastern League Champions (fourth year in a row) with a 73/69 record. The team is operated by the Harrisburg Senators Baseball Club, Inc. (Chairman Greg Martini). Doug Sisson manages the team that calls Riverside Stadium home. The stadium is located on City Island in the middle of the Susquehanna River. A multi-complex sports facility, the center seats 6,300 people and accommodated well over 200,000 fans last season.
The Senator’s 2000 season opened Friday, April 7 at 7:05 p.m. (Sunday games begin at 1:05). To reserve your seats, call (717) 231-4444. Tickets range from $5 to $8 for adults, and as low as $3 for children and senior citizens. Group rates and picnic packages are also available. The Harrisburg Senators are located on the web atwww.senatorsbaseball.com
Directions: Exit the Turnpike at the Harrisburg-West
Shore Interchange (#18), taking I-83 north to Harrisburg. Take the 2nd
Street exit, turning left onto Market Street (Fourth light). The exit to
City Island is half way over the Market Street Bridge.
The Altoona Curve is a Pittsburgh Pirates Class AA affiliate now in its second year of existence. The team finished 1999 with a 67-73 record (.479), sixth out of six teams in the Southern Division.
Bob Lozinak is the primary Altoona Curve owner (Altoona Baseball Properties, LLC), and Marty Brown will again manage the Curve in 2000.
Curve play in Blair County Ballpark – capacity 6,176, — near Bedford. Average home attendance for the Curve in 1999 was 4,695.
Game times are 6:35 or 7:05 for night games and 1:35 for day games (Sundays). Individual game tickets range from $2.18 to $8.72. Season packages include a 35-game pass for $190.75 or $228.90. The phone number is 814-943-5400 Web address iswww.altoonacurve.com.
Directions: Take Interstate 99 (also signed as U.S.
Route 220) north from Bedford exit (#11) of Turnpike. Get off at
Frankstown Road exit.
Erie SeaWolves is an Anaheim Angels Class AA affiliate. This season will be team’s sixth year in existence, its second year as AA Angels affiliate.
The SeaWolves 1999 record was 81-61 (.570), first-place in EL’s Northern Division. They lost to Harrisburg in Division Playoffs. Alan M. Levin is principal owner and managing general partner of Palisades Baseball Ltd. Gerald J. Leider is the other general partner in Palisades Baseball. Manager for 2000 season is Don Wakamatsu (his first year). He previously managed the AA El Paso Diablos (Ariz., Diamondbacks) in the Texas League. Wakamatsu succeeds Garry Templeton, who was promoted to manage the Angels’ AAA Edmonton Trappers.
SeaWolves play in Jerry Uht Park (opened in 1995). Average home attendance in 1999 was 3,496.
Game times are 2 p.m. Sundays, 6 p.m. in April and May and 7 p.m. in June, July, August and September. Game day tickets range from $5 to $8. Seniors and kids 12 and under get $2 off reserved and bleacher seats. Season tickets are $568 (box) and $497 (reserved) for full home schedule and $284 (box) and $249 (reserved) for a half-season. The telephone number is 814-456-1300 or 800-456-1304 Web site iswww.seawolves.com.
Directions: Take Interstate 79 north to East 12th Street Exit. From East 12th Street, make left onto State Street and then a right onto 10th Street. The address of the ballpark is 110 East 10th St.
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