LANCASTER, PA–The Sentra and I have hit the road!

I’ve done the drive south from Boston more times than I can count, and have come think of New York City sort of like a surly bouncer, a gatekeeper who tries to keep you from getting where you want to go for as long as possible. Only instead of standing in line outside a bar, you’re sitting in a long line of traffic.

So I skirted around the obstreperous mass of New York as much as possible, taking the parkways to the Tappan Zee bridge, and cut across New Jersey to Pennsylvania. There are three minor league teams in Harrisburg and vicinity—the Harrisburg Senators, the York Revolution, and the Lancaster Barnstormers—making it a good first stop.

After about six hours, I was rolling down Route 222 and over the well-farmed hills of Pennsylvania, passing shoulder-high corn and signs for towns like Shoemakersville, Wyomissing, and Buck. I skidded into Lancaster around 8 o’clock, just in time to catch the majority of a Barnstormers game. They had a lively crowd last night, and a refreshing breeze late in the game. It was “Dog Daze” night, and a good portion of the fans had brought their pooches with them.

Lancaster, Pennsylvania is a little slice of Americana, and Clipper Magazine Park fits right in. The stadium opened in 2005, and features all the amenities: full-sized carousel, bumper boats, and a large barn in right field (and naturally, when a player hits the roof of the last with a foul ball, this is immediately followed by a loud “MOO”). The mascot, Cylo (pronounced Silo—get it?), is a cow. And the noisemaker of choice is, naturally, the cowbell.

Like the York Revolution, the Barnstormers are part of the Atlantic League, a professional baseball league unaffiliated with MLB, and split into two divisions: the Liberty Division and the Freedom Division. TheĀ  Barnstormers can sure score runs—and combined with their uneven defense (five errors on the night), it made for quite a show. The scoring seesawed all night, with the Newark Bears making a comeback in the top of the 9th, but Lancaster loaded the bases in the bottom of the frame for young Jordan Herr, who delivered a two-run single for the walkoff win.

It’s tourist season here in Pennsylvania Dutch country (or, as the Barnstormers call it, “Pennsylvania Clutch Country”), which means I had to take an overpriced smoking room at the local TraveLodge—there aren’t a whole lot of places to stay around here, at least, not the kind of places you can find after a baseball game (oops). As to who those tourists are and what they’re doing here, as the guy at the TraveLodge desk put it, “They’re all New Yorkers who drive out here to watch the Amish plow fields.” Party on.

I’ve got to get back on the road if I’m going to make it to North Carolina by dinnertime, so pictures and more details will have to wait for now. Go ‘Stormers!

5 Responses to “Minor League Road Trip: The Lancaster Barnstormers”

  1. Paul Moro says:

    My family and I used to be those “New Yorkers who drive out there to watch the Amish plow fields”. Actually, it was more like my parents forcing me and my siblings to come along with them. Because nothing says “summer vacation” for a ten-year old boy like going to Lancaster County to watch people crochet. It was awesome to the extreme. Ugh.

  2. It’s not often I find a mention of my local East Nowhere road on the interweb. Route 222 would’ve gotten you close to the double-A Reading Phillies as well.

  3. Tourist tip: pronounce it lanc-aster, not lan-caster.

  4. Sarah Green says:

    Lynn, Route 222 was a very pretty drive! I heartily recommend it. I also ended up passing not too far from the Hagerstown Suns on my journey south, but I didn’t have time to stop, alas.

    And Joe, that’s a good tip. We have a Lancaster in Massachusetts not too far from where I grew up, but it is definitely LAN-caster.

    And Paul, sounds like your parents and mine would get along. We definitely did a “drive through Iowa and look at old family tombstones” vacation once. SO. MUCH. CORN.

  5. Actually, five errors sounds pretty consistent to me. In a really bad way.

    This is a great series. Us Bus Leaguers are jealous.

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