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Cutters Tidbits

With Major League Baseball spring training facilities now in full swing in Florida and Arizona and the local populous anxiously waiting Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of an early spring to ring true, Gabe Sinicropi, the Williamsport Crosscutters vice-president of marketing & public relations, took some time to talk baseball with this reporter. Webb Weekly: What has

With Major League Baseball spring training facilities now in full swing in Florida and Arizona and the local populous anxiously waiting Punxsutawney Phil’s prognostication of an early spring to ring true, Gabe Sinicropi, the Williamsport Crosscutters vice-president of marketing & public relations, took some time to talk baseball with this reporter.

Webb Weekly: What has the ‘off-season’ been like for you?

Sinicropi: Believe it or not it has been busy. Some people may think we just roll in about June 1 and get things ready to open the gates. There has been a lot of work taking place in preparation for the renovations that will happen here, including the new scoreboard. This HD video board is really going to upgrade the fan experience at the ballpark. Overall this is a very big project. It is replacing the scoreboard that we have, but it is really a whole different thing.

It’s not that we are upgrading something, but we are starting a whole new department in our business, which is a video and scoreboard department. We’ve hired a new fulltime person, something we haven’t done in more than a decade.

The Crosscutters and the City are both very committed. There are certainly some Ts to cross, and Is to dot, but it has been a project that has been in the works for about six months. I don’t see it not getting to the finish line.

The scoreboard will be somewhat similar to the scoreboard recently installed at Lycoming College’s football field. We will have four cameras in the stadium, two of which are stationary while the other two will be manned cameras. Everything that happens between innings will be up on the scoreboard for people to see. We will have the capabilities to stream our games online so that the families of the players scattered around the country and other people into watching the prospects in the Phillies minor league system will be able to see the games on their computer or smart device. It will be a big change from what we’ve done. We are one of only about three teams in our league that doesn’t have an HD video system. So it is high time we make this jump and get this rolling.

Along with the scoreboard, we will be expanding the size of our current press box. The press box will be expanded on both sides that will include a new control room for the scoreboard system.

One other improvement that is on the horizon to be done in the fall is an upgrade of the visitor’s clubhouse and umpire’s rooms.

Webb Weekly: Pat Borders will be returning for his fifth season as Crosscutters manager. Isn’t this a bit unusual?

Sinicropi: Yes, it is a bit unusual at this level for a manager to be here that long. Having Pat back for a fifth year is great for us. We know him and love him, and it works for him. Pat has a big family, has nine kids, and makes his home in Florida. That plays into it as well. He lives close enough that he can commute during spring training, so he is only away from home during the three months that he is in Williamsport. He enjoys it here, and he likes working with the young players. I think his style and personality are probably better suited for the first and second year players that play here. I’m not sure Pat would enjoy it as much working with players at the Double and Triple-A levels.

Webb Weekly: There seems to be a lot more ‘fan-buzz’ surrounding the parent Phillies this year. Does that help the Crosscutters?

Sinicropi: I think you can argue about how much it may help, but it doesn’t hurt. Having the Phillies be relevant is a positive thing for us. We want to be affiliated with a winner, and the Phillies have always been a great organization. It is encouraging what the Phillies are doing, and I think the winning ways will soon be coming back to Philadelphia.

Last year our attendance was up on a per-game basis averaging about 1,900 a game. This year our pre-season ticket sales are running a little ahead of last year, so that is a positive. Our ultimate goal is to get to a point where there is a ticket demand for all of our 38 regular season games. Signs are pointing in a positive direction.

Right now there are about fifteen players on the Phillies roster that played here for the Crosscutters. The biggest former Crosscutter name with the Phillies is Rhys Hoskins. He is a young up & coming star. Right now I’d say that he is the biggest former Crosscutter in the Major Leagues, not just with the Phillies.

Webb Weekly: How does the rest of the NY-Penn League view the Crosscutter organization?

Sinicropi: In one sense we’re still in the lower echelon of the league as far as market size and attendance, but I think league-wide we are viewed a little bit differently than that. We have this veteran staff (general manager Doug Estes and Sinicropi have been with the organization for the past 25 years) that has been here a long time and having the MLB/Little League Classic here has really elevated us all around baseball. It has combined to make our dot on the map a little bit bigger.

We are ‘little-ole Williamsport,’ and in some regards, we always will be. But we always try to do the best job possible regardless of market size as long as we can afford it. It is a business, and we take that incredibly seriously. Running a profitable business is not an easy thing to do in all of minor league baseball. There are many teams much larger and more famous than us that don’t do so well on the ledger. We have been lucky enough to at least sustain and that’s really the goal — to keep minor league baseball here in Williamsport.

Webb Weekly: What has the MLB/LLB Classic meant to the Crosscutters?

Sinicropi: The biggest thing we have gained from the MLB/LLB Classic is all the renovations. That game became the conduit for everything that has happened here over the last two to three years. Without that Major League game, so much of that would not have happened. Those things were on our wish list, but we’ve now received two state grants that the City applied for and got. I think it is safe to assume that neither of those would have happened without the Major League game. All those field improvements that MLB did make led to so many of the improvements that have since been made.

Note: The Crosscutters will open their 2019 season June 14 at Bowman Field hosting State College. For ticket and general information contact the Crosscutters office at 570-326-3389.

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