It’s hard to imagine downtown Lancaster without the big baseball park along the 600 block of North Prince Street.
And it’s hard to imagine that a mere decade ago Clipper Magazine Stadium, and the team known as the Lancaster Barnstormers, weren’t there.
“Lancaster has changed dramatically in the last 10 years, and we really are the hub” that started the change, Barnstormer official Anthony DeMarco said recently.
“You see all the new shops, the new restaurants and a lot of the things going on downtown, and ... we were the start of that.
“So let’s celebrate.”
The Barnstormers are getting ready to celebrate a special year — 2014, the team’s 10th-anniverary season at the 6,000-seat stadium.
Following are highlights of the upcoming season, which begins in Lancaster with the home opener Thursday, May 1, and revolve around a celebration of the team’s first 10 years.
--- At each Thursday home game in 2014, a Barnstormer who has played a key role in the minor-league baseball team’s history will be added to a “Ring Of Honor” on the outfield wall.
Ten players — one per game — will be added. The players will be chosen by the fans, part of a season-long “Throwback Thursday” promotion honoring the team’s young history.
“Our fans, to a large degree, have a lot to do with the plans we’re putting together for the 10th-anniversary season,” said the team’s top front-office official, General Manager Kristen Simon. Events at the stadium this summer include:
--- A “Cowboy Monkey Rodeo,” the hugely popular promotion across baseball’s minor leagues that features monkeys riding dogs and lassoing sheep, is slated for Saturday, July 26.
A large number of Barnstormer fans over the years have asked for the rodeo, DeMarco said.
--- “Grammy Night” on Thursday, May 29, will feature a musical theme and the chance to win tickets to shows by such performers as Justin Timberlake and Bruno Mars.
--- A bobblehead night featuring J.P. McCaskey, for whom Lancaster’s high school is named, will take place Saturday, May 31.
--- The popular bring-your-dog-to-the-park promotion, which has been renamed “Woofstock” for 2014, will return this year, on Sunday, June 1.
--- For the first time, a hand-held replica of the stadium will be given away at a Barnstormers’ game, on Saturday, July 5.
--- Two new promotions are planned: A “T-Shirt Tuesday” at which a different T-shirt will be given away each week to the first 1,000 fans, and “Frydays,” to be held during Friday games at the stadium's concession stands.
Each Friday/Fryday, fans can have “a different unique food item each week” that will be deep-fried, according to Simon.
Examples include fried pickles, ice cream bars, even peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The team got the idea from items sold at fairs and farm shows here.
--- A “Heroes Night” for local emergency responders will be held Thursday, Sept. 11, the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
--- There will be 19 fireworks shows this summer, and the return of other popular promotions, including the “Scout Sleepover” nights.
A number of dignitaries in the team’s still-young history will be back for the May 1 home opener, at 7 p.m. versus the York Revolution.
Also on opening night, the first 1,500 fans will receive a baseball card set commemorating the first 10 years.
A popular band from “America’s Got Talent,” known as Quick Change, will return to play beforehand, and, for the first time in several years, fireworks will follow the opener.
The team, led by new front-office official Alexy Posner, will be working more than ever with social media to reach fans in 2014.
The Barnstormers have more than 13,000 likes on Facebook, and “fans are basically going to see things they’ve never seen here before,” said Posner, team public relations and brand coordinator.
They include chances to participate in special promotions on Twitter and Facebook, including in-game trivia for prizes.
There also will be another new promotion this year, a “Sunday Steal,” in which a pair of “flash sales” will be announced via social media, one at the concession stands and one in the stadium merchandise store.
In other Barnstormer news for 2014:
--- Dave Collins, the team's radio and audio play-by-play man since the team's beginning, will be back for his 10th season with the club, also his 26th year calling professional baseball play-by-play.
--- Also returning will be team mascot Cylo and pregame and between-innings emcee I.M. Fun.
--- Ticket prices will remain the same in 2014.
--- Jim Reed again is president of the Barnstormers’ official booster club, which is planning a full season of off-the-field efforts to boost the team.
--- Local school districts will have theme nights for their districts at the ballpark this season.
--- Preseason events include the annual auditions for would-be performers of the national anthem, on Saturday, March 22, from noon to 3 p.m. at Park City, and the annual “Fanfest” at the stadium on Saturday, April 19.
For more details, call 509-4487 or visit www.lancasterbarnstormers.com.