McCutchen back at one of earliest home fields

PITTSBURGH — After playing in nearly 1,300 Major League games since he got called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2009, you will have to forgive five-time MLB All-Star Andrew McCutchen for not exactly remembering a ton about playing in Williamsport. Nine years in the big leagues, over 1,400 hits and countless road trips would make memories of any player’s minor league days a bit of a haze, especially a brief time at a ballpark as a rookie.

Bowman Field was one of the first stadiums that Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen once got to call his home. Granted, he first played in the minors with the Golf Coast League Pirates, but after he was drafted in the first round of the 2005 Major League Baseball draft instead of playing at the University of Florida, McCutchen was promoted and found his way to Williamsport at Bowman Field.

For 13 games late that summer, McCutchen wore a Crosscutters uniform, and while his time in Williamsport wasn’t necessarily the most remarkable in terms of Crosscutters history, his leap to stardom in the big leagues definitely has made some fans recall his time in Williamsport.

As for what McCucthen remembers while donning a Crosscutters uniform 12 long years ago?

“I mean nothing like a big league ball park. Sure, it will be a fun experience, been there since I was 19. Bring back some memories, wake up some old cobwebs probably,” McCutchen said, standing in the Pittsburgh Pirates dugout at PNC Park during a homestand in mid-July against the St. Louis Cardinals.

For the first time in the stadium’s long, storied history, Bowman Field will host a Major League game as the Pittsburgh Pirates play the St. Louis Cardinals in Williamsport as part of the MLB Little League Classic today.

It’s a trip not only across Interstate 80 for McCutchen, but down memory lane in one of the very first ballparks he played in during his minor league career.

“The place is a grave yard,” McCutchen said of Bowman Field with a laugh. “Don’t remember a whole lot, but I remember being there for a little bit in my young career.”

While it’s no doubt an extremely unique experience and will be the first Major League Baseball game ever played at Bowman Field, for McCutchen, he sees it as just another game on the schedule. It may be a unique game and a once-in-a-lifetime memory for the select few area fans who got tickets to the game and for the Little League teams watching two Major League teams play in Williamsport, but for McCutchen and others, it’s just another game that counts in the standings.

“It is what it is, don’t matter how I feel. We’re going to go wherever they say we’re going to go,” McCutchen said. “Games still count. Got to count every ball game the same and win.”

While in Williamsport as a member of the Crosscutters in 2005, McCutchen played in 13 games, going 13 for 49 in his first seven games and hitting .346 overall.

McCutchen bounced around the minor leagues from 2005 until 2008. He was called up to the big leagues in 2009 with the Pirates. Since getting called up, he’s been a five-time MLB All-Star, a four-time Silver Slugger award winner, won the Gold Glove once and was named the National League’s Most Valuable Player in 2013.

While in the minors, after playing in Williamsport and the Gulf Coast League, he played in the Eastern League with Altoona, the South Atlantic League with Hickory and the International League with Indianapolis.

McCutchen has some links from the Crosscutters alongside him at Pittsburgh. Tom Prince was the manager of the Crosscutters when McCutchen played in 2005 and helped lead them to the playoffs his first year. He was later named the bench coach for the Pirates this year after bouncing around the minor leagues previously within the Pirates organization. For Prince, it will be a trip back to Bowman Field as well.

Prince managed Williamsport two years before going to the Pirates’ Golf Coast League team in 2007.

It’s a bit of a unique experience for McCutchen though, to not only go back to one of his former homes at Bowman Field, but to do so as part of an MLB game and not a minor-league assignment. It’s not something many players will get to experience in their careers.

“Whatever they need to do to promote (baseball) I guess. It will be cool,” McCutchen said. “We’ll get there and see how it goes.”