Williamsport is fortunate to have a minor league baseball team and fans who flock to Bowman Field on summer evenings to watch young professional ballplayers live out their dreams.
With one of the smaller population centers for a minor league team, getting people out to the games is part of the challenge.
But the Williamsport Crosscutters are defying the odds, continuing to call the city home and showing no signs of uprooting for some other venue.
"We have persevered," said Crosscutters general manager Doug Estes.
Recently, the Crosscutters were honored by the Williamsport/Lycoming Chamber of Commerce with the
Phillips/Plankenhorn Small Business Award.
Estes said it's evidence of the baseball club meeting the every day challenges of successfully running its operations.
But it doesn't just happen.
"It's building relationships with our sponsors," he said. "We are fortunate to have businesses behind us."
Year after year, many of the same sponsors, consisting of businesses and organizations, support the minor league club.
It's also the fans who get behind the team and buy tickets to watch thegames. There are the diehards, who rarely miss any of the 38 home games the Crosscutters play at Bowman Field.
There are the businesses and organizations that sponsor special nights at the ball park, allowing their employees or members to attend the games and help build future fan bases.
Gabe Sinicropi, vice president of Marketing and Public Relations, said selling minor league baseball
is more than merely opening the gates to ball park for the fans to watch a game.
It's taking in the whole experience, he said.
That's why even the little things that come with the ball park experience must be done right.
"Are our foods hot? Are the restrooms clean?" he said.
Coming to the game should be memorable for a fan.
"The best barometer is when they leave the ball park and don't even now what the score is," Sinicropi said.
Sinicropi spends much of his time at ball games serving as on field promoter between innings. On any particular evening, he can be found introducing participants and calling the play-by-play of some of the goofy competitions which pit fans against each other down on the field.
It's part of what the minor leagues are all about.
The diversions attract many people to the ball park and make the experience a fun and entertaining one.
Estes and Sinicropi are grateful for the city money that has been pumped into the ball park for renovations over the years.
"We are challenged with an older stadium and a smaller market," Estes said.
Some upgrades to the 87-year-old ball park can be expected in coming years.
Sinicropi said the Crosscutters are unique in that they have been in one city for so long.
"We talk about longevity and being in Williamsport. The management team of Doug and
myself have been here awhile." Sinicropi said. "It's been stable. It's not something you often find in sports."
That stability, he said, is a big part of the organization's success. It helps build relationship and trust within the community.
"You are dealing with the same people," Sinicropi explained. "Those things can't be over-estimated."
The Crosscutters play in the New York-Penn League. The team is the short season Single A affiliate
of the Philadelphia Phillies.