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Kings of the Hill: Lamade Stadium's Iconic Outfield Hill provides natural seating, great views for fans
By Darian Somers
Fenway has the Monster, Wrigley has the Ivy, and while it isn't exactly a big league stadium, Lamade has the Hill.
Howard J. Lamade Stadium holds 3,300 people, but it holds many more beyond the outfield fence. Thanks to the natural slope behind the wall, fans from all over the world enjoy some of the best seats in baseball, and have been every year since Lamade Stadium opened in 1959.
"We like the stands, but a lot of time at night, it's really nice to come out and sit on the lawn and watch it," New York native Alan Petrie said.
Just like Fenway and Wrigley, it can be hard to find a seat in Little League's® oldest stadium. Because there are no tickets required for admission, the first-come, first-serve admission policy ushers thousands out to the Hill, and those thousands are perfectly fine with that. Lamade Stadium plays host to a majority of the games in the Little League Baseball® World Series including the U.S. and International championships. It also plays host to the World Championship, an event that routinely packs the Hill.
Since the Little League Baseball World Series moved to Lamade 54 years ago, attendance for the series has grown. The largest estimated attendance for the entire World Series was in 2011 when 414,905 watched it in person, many of them from the Hill. The highest attendance for a single game was in 2001, when 44,800 fans filled the Hill and Lamade for the Championship game.
The Hill provides seating unrivaled in American sports. It's where fans can bring a blanket, find an open spot and spend an entire day watching Little Leaguers® slug it out.
Along with blankets, lawn chairs are another popular stadium seat in the outfield, but these lawn chairs take special crafting to adjust to the steep slope of the Hill. Fans will often cut off the majority of the back legs so that the chairs naturally rest against the Hill. It makes for a much more comfortable way to take in the game.
"We've wanted to do it for years," Logan Spotts, a Williamsport native, said about the cutting of the chairs. "You can see that a lot of people do it. It's just easier because you are sitting on a slant on the bank."
The view of the game is top-notch, and the the scenery is often spectacular -- especially around sunset when the sky is illuminated with pinks, oranges and purples. Most of the home run balls that make it to the Hilll usually get passed back to the Little Leaguer who knocked it out.
"It's home-run territory," New Jersey native Gregg White said. "That's what my little guy says."
The Hill is steep enough to provide a clear view for anyone who sits on the slope. That's something that a lot of people enjoy. In the stands, beams, vendors and other fans can block views. For the most part, the entire field can be seen, unblocked, from any vantage point on the Hill.
"After the first year, we sat up on top of the hill, bringing a blanket it, but I like being able to come down here because I like the view," Pennsylvania native Michele Prosser, who was returning for her fifth Little League World Series, said. "You see everything. You see everything that is going on. You see the players. You can see the pitches actually going in. It's a nice view."
However, just like the stands, the best seats go quickly, so getting to South Williamsport early means a better patch of lawn.
Prosser said she got to her spot at 11 a.m. for a 4 p.m. game. White, who was with a group of friends, got there at noon. Both of them had some of the best, closest seats the field.
Like pin trading, sitting on the Hill provides just one more tradition that brings family and friends together in South Williamsport.
"It's fun, relaxed," Spotts said of the Hill. "It's a beautiful day. I'm just enjoying baseball from a good spot."