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The Historic Bowman Field Project

Government and Business Working Together


  Sometimes the answer or story can be right under your nose. I've been to Historic Bowman Field numerous times over the past year.  I have probably driven by the ballpark a thousand times. But it was not until a press conference last week that I realized what was going on at this grand old diamond of America's pastime.
  The first clue should've been the large Susquehanna Bank Park signs that went up last year. The signs were really a sign of something new.
  As I entered the press conference the first surprise was a multi media conference room had been constructed where offices used to be at the entrance to Bowman Field. A first class room 20' wide by 30' long, capable of holding any announcement, meeting or suitable for pre-and post game interviews and a Major League style press conference.
  Gabe Sinicropi, Doug Estes and new Crosscutter Owner Peter B. Freund greeted everyone as they entered the Cutter’s Conference Center as it will be known.
As everyone took their seats it was obvious they had a presentation for us. A large poster board or framed drawing rested covered by a Cutter's stadium blanket on an easel made of wood bats in the front of the room. A large 120" viewing screen sat behind it. An overhead view of Susquehanna Bank Park and Historic Bowman Field was the backdrop for the words, "Historic Baseball Tradition and the Field of Tomorrow".
  The conference began with an invocation by Father John Manno in honor of his father Don who was a professional ballplayer with Boston. Father Manno is truly a blessing to our community.
  Then it was time for the official business of the day. Gabe Sinicropi took the podium. First the bleachers that are being removed along the right-field line are being replaced with two great new things.
 Sixteen player suites will be built at the ground level. This will house Cutter players reporting from college. "In recent years it has been tougher and tougher to find host families," Gabe noted. John Albarano and his construction company will be building and are sponsoring these rooms. Mr. Albarano stated "My Father loved baseball as do I. This is a great way to give back to the community." Doug Estes VP of Operations noted a sincere thanks to John, for his generosity and commitment, the suites will be finished for the season opening. The small housing area will be named Albarano's Diamond Dorms.
  What's in a name? The Diamond part could be used to refer to Mike Petro owner of Petro's Jewelers. His business logo along with Beiter’s Home Centers will appear on the bottom of the entrance signs of the small hotel area. Mike and Bob Beiter will furnish the rooms and split the cost of the items to make the rooms feel like "home" for the players. Janice Hiller attended the meeting for Mr. Beiter. She has been their long time advertising and marketing person. "We are honored to help bring a new age of comfort for the young players at Bowman and to be part of the project." Well said, Janice.
  Tom Fink and Mike Petro attended the meeting and both can be commended for their donation to city baseball. Historic Bowman Field will be the “crown jewel of minor league parks” Petro said with a smile.
  Mr. Sinicropi then asked for the "Taste of Home" folks to come forward. Mr. Bernie Oravec, Publisher of the Sun Gazette, the Robinson brothers Scott and Robbie, owners of Park Pizza and Henry's BBQ. The Daniele's, Maria, Fred and Francis from Franco’s, Joanna’s Bakery and Cloud 9.  Candy and Ken Zheng and Jason Matty, Ichiban and Sticky Elbow restaurateurs, Ozzie and Mae proprietors of Ozzie and Mae's Hacienda downtown. My first thought was this was a promotion for the Sun Gazette Taste of Home event (April 9th, 2015) and maybe a donation to the project in that name. I wasn't even close. Mr. Oravec took the podium and announced that in front and above the Diamond Dorms would be "A food court to put the Seattle Mariners to shame."
  The Mariners ballpark is known for everything from a hotdog to sushi, from pizza to wood fired barbecue.  "The local restaurant owners standing with me will have smaller versions of their eateries with deck eating facing the field and indoor air-conditioned tables for great food before, during or after each game. The project will be paid for by the Sun Gazette and owner of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Robert Nutting.”
  How awesome is that? Thank you Mr. Oravec and Mr. Nutting. Baseball and some of my favorite food stops all at one place. The Robinson brothers each said almost the same thing, that's why they are brothers. "What a great project to be part of, we will provide great food at the same price you pay when you come see us." My friend Francis Daniele commented, "Airports and ballparks are my specialty" and asked if I would have my Webb Weekly Christmas party at Bowman?
  Mae spoke on behalf of Ozzie and Mae's as most wives do for their husbands, "Mexican food is a great ballpark tradition south of the border. We will bring our great flavor along with some new items that can be found in the ballparks of Latin America, Cuba and Mexico.
  Next up to the podium was Marty from Loudenslager’s Carpet Corner. I'm thinking Marty will kick in the carpet for the new rooms. Wrong again. "I am happy to be here and even happier to tell you I will provide free installation of a new field similar to what is at Lackawanna County Stadium home of the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.” That was very nice of Marty, although I like natural grass and Historic Bowman Field doesn't seem like the place for artificial turf. I also wondered who would be paying for the turf. It would have to cost millions for prep work and turf.
  Mr. Freund, new owner of the Cutters would answer my questions, he was up next. "As you know I am a minority owner of the New York Yankees." No, I didn't know that and there was the connection to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Yankees.
  "The New York Yankees organization and I will provide the athletic turf for the renovation. We would like to thank the Bill Pickelner Foundation for a sizable donation towards the excavation and prep work which will be done at cost by Hawbaker Corporation and the efforts of Hal Gee." Wow. Big-time field improvements. No more rainouts with the sunshine, no more canceling of the Backyard Brawl. Forget what I wrote earlier about natural grass.
  The last speaker of the day was Mayor Gabriel Campana. "It is unbelievable what can be done when government, business and our citizens work together. The Bowman Field project will cost just in excess of $89 million. The last phase of the project is in conjunction with the work scheduled at Memorial Pool. There will be no renovation. A new pool will be built off of the deck area in centerfield of our great ballpark, Historic Bowman Field.”
  The Mayor then pulled the covering off the easel in the front of the room. There it was, the centerfield fence had been lowered and replaced with plexiglass. A large pool, complete with waterslide, surrounding deck and chairs, covered lounge and bar area. Truly amazing – the pool will hold 105,000 gallons of water and have a kiddie area at the north end. "The pool area will be called Banks of the Susquehanna" the Mayor added. It will be paid for by the funding for the Memorial Park Pool and Susquehanna Bank.
  Aquarius Pools and Patio will be doing the work and providing the poolside furnishings. I caught up with owner Gene Schurer for comment, "What a great plan, baseball, dining, a drink and bring your bathing suit.  No worries we will have it done by June 15."
  With that the press conference came to an end. I was getting my mind around everything that was just talked about and Mr. Bob Helmrich, long time umpire and owner of Helmrich's Seafood stopped me. "What do you think about you and I funding a 200 gallon aquarium out in the pool area?" Sure, Bob sounds good I responded.
  "I am thinking we take the mount of the large Bull Shark from Helmrich's Seafood and hang it over the aquarium at the ballpark. I still get as many people coming in to see it as the day it was caught out of the Susquehanna and hung at the store years ago!" (Shark caught in Susquehanna 3/29/2006 can be read at I think that's a great idea. That will fit right in with the Bowman Field renovations.  For More on this read Scott Lowery's story.
  Happy Easter and God Bless America.

  Shark Caught in Susquehanna  
  from: Webb Weekly, March 29, 2006  

MONTOURSVILLE — The unheard of…the impossible has happened. A shark has been caught in the Susquehanna River near here.
  Noted outdoorsman Ken Hunter caught a nine-foot Bull Shark in the West Branch of the Susquehanna between Muncy and Montoursville on Monday. It weighed about 400 pounds and is currently in cold storage at Helmrich’s Seafood in Williamsport.
  “I had been hearing rumors of shark sightings on the river in recent days,” Hunter told Webb Weekly. “It seemed impossible, but I had to check it out.”
  Hunter, who writes a weekly outdoors column for Webb Weekly, said he caught the bull shark in what is known as the Canon Hole.
  “I don’t want to go into a great many details of how, when and where my fishing buddy and I first located the shark, and what I used to catch it,” Hunter said. “All that will come out in some future articles.  We have notified Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. They will be picking up the shark and taking it back for study.”
    The Bull Shark, Carcharhinus leucas is also known as the cub shark, Ganges shark, Nicaragua shark, river shark, and various other names. Bull sharks grow from 7 to 11 feet and can weigh up to 500 pounds. They eat everything including other sharks, birds, dolphins, turtles and people.
  The Bull Shark is the only species known to be able to spend extended periods of time in fresh water. According to an article on the National Geographic website, sharks must retain salt inside their bodies, without it, their cells will rupture, resulting in death.  When sharks enter fresh water, their internal salt levels become diluted.
  But bull sharks’ kidneys recycle the salt within their bodies. Bull sharks have traveled 1,750 miles up the Mississippi River and as far north as Illinois. Hunter’s catch is truly remarkable given the obstacles the shark must have encountered between the Chesapeake Bay and the West Branch of the Susquehanna. He estimated it must have taken two weeks for the shark to work its way so far up the river.
  According to Wikipedia, the Susquehanna River is extremely ancient. It is often regarded as the oldest or second oldest major system in the world. It actually predates the Atlantic Ocean and is the longest river on the American East Coast. The river flows across southeastern Pennsylvania, emptying in the north end of the Chesapeake Bay.
  On August 12, 1985, a large, bull shark was caught in the Chesapeake Bay along the western North Atlantic seaboard.
  “There is something about these premiere predators that grabs us on a primal, gut level,” said Hunter. “Who can forget the stomach-churning, duh-duh-duh-duh music in the 1974 film Jaws? I can tell you my heart was thumping when I hooked this one.”
  A predatory river shark so far up the Susquehanna sounds preposterous, unless you are aware of the story of The Jersey Man Eater, the probable inspiration for Peter Benchley’s book, Jaws. 
  Pennsylvania may be following the pattern of the other states — sightings, skepticism, more sightings and then actual proof. No one believed the sightings of a shark in a New Jersey creek, until the attacks began. 
  From July 1 to July 12 1916 there were five shark attacks in New Jersey — four of them fatal. Two were in the ocean but three were in the fresh water Matawan Creek. The creek was only 11 yards across at it widest and about 5 feet deep at high tide. So it should come as no surprise that a Bull Shark might find its way up a river the size of the Susquehanna
 Webb Weekly wants you to be prepared in case you encounter sharks here or elsewhere. The following are a few safety tips more can be found on shark prevention websites.

Remain Calm. Don't panic.
Defend yourself with whatever weapons you can.
Get out of the water quickly, but swim calmly. 
Don't swim or dive alone.
Avoid entering the water between dusk and dawn.
Avoid entering the ocean near river mouths, especially after a rainstorm.
And finally, sharks can sense gullibility, so don’t be so gullible.

  Gotcha! Happy Lirpa Loof Day!