Sports in South Central Pennsylvania

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South Central Pennsylvania, a region synonymous with the Pennsylvania Dutch Country, is known for its many traditions such as New Year's Day pork and sauerkraut, fasnachts for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, hex signs, and shoofly pie. However, South Central Pennsylvania also has a strong sporting tradition, such as the professional baseball teams who barnstormed their way through Lancaster County's farmland in the early 1900s to Milton S. Hershey's creation of the Hershey B'ars hockey club in 1932.

Club Sport League Championships Venue
Harrisburg City Islanders Soccer USL Pro 1 (2007) Skyline Sports Complex
Harrisburg Heat Indoor soccer PASL 0 Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center
Harrisburg Horizon Basketball EBA 5 (2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006) Manny Weaver Gym
Harrisburg Senators Baseball Eastern League 6 (1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) Metro Bank Park
Harrisburg Stampede Indoor football AIF 0 Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center
Hershey Bears Ice hockey AHL 11 (1947, 1958, 1959, 1969, 1974, 1980, 1988, 1997, 2006, 2009, 2010) Giant Center
Lancaster Barnstormers Baseball ALPB 1 (2006) Clipper Magazine Stadium
Lancaster Inferno Women's Soccer WPSL 0 Hempfield High School
York Capitals Indoor football AIF 0 York City Ice Arena
York Revolution Baseball ALPB 2 (2010, 2011) Santander Stadium


Three professional baseball teams compete in the South Central Pennsylvania area: the Harrisburg Senators, the Lancaster Barnstormers, and the York Revolution. The Senators are the oldest team of the three, with the current incarnation playing since 1987. The Barnstormers joined the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball in the 2005 season, and won the Championship Series in 2006. Following the success of Lancaster's entry, the Opening Day Partners ownership group added the York Revolution in 2007.

The three cities of Harrisburg, Lancaster, and York each had various baseball plans before settling with their current situations. Harrisburg was in the process of pursuing a AAA-level team, planning major renovations to Commerce Bank Park to bring it to the standards of the International League. However, with the independent teams in Lancaster and York, and the addition of the Lehigh Valley IronPigs in Allentown, the chances of AAA baseball coming to Harrisburg are rather slim.

The original Harrisburg Senators played in the Eastern League in 1924. Playing its home games at Island Field, the team won the league championship in the 1927, 1928, and 1931 seasons. The Senators played a few more seasons before flood waters destroyed Island Field in 1936, effectively ending Eastern League participation for fifty-one years. In 1940, Harrisburg gained an Interstate League team affiliated with the Pittsburgh Pirates. However, the team remained in the city only until 1943, when it moved to nearby York and renamed the York Pirates. The current Harrisburg Senators won the Eastern League championship in the 1987, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999 seasons.

Many decades before the formation of the Barnstormers and Revolution organizations, the cities of Lancaster and York battled for baseball supremacy in the "War of the Roses." The Lancaster Red Roses and the York White Roses both played in various leagues together, with some bitter rivalry. Both teams were eventually dissolved, leaving Lancaster and York without baseball for several decades.

The Lancaster Barnstormers arrived in 2005, the first baseball team in the city for 44 years. The Barnstormers won the Atlantic League Championship Series in 2006, defeating the Bridgeport Bluefish in the league's first four-game sweep in a championship. The York Revolution played its inaugural season in 2007, reigniting the "War of the Roses" rivalry with Lancaster. The Barnstormers and the Revolution both wear retro uniforms of the respective Red Roses and White Roses for some of the games played between them.

Baseball players[edit]

Many professional baseball players call the South Central Pennsylvania region home, such as Lancaster native Tom Herr. Herr is a former Major League second baseman who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Minnesota Twins, the Philadelphia Phillies, the San Francisco Giants, and the New York Mets. After his retirement from Major League Baseball, Herr coached the Hempfield High School baseball team, a stint which included mentoring his son, Aaron. In 2005, he accepted the field manager position with his hometown Lancaster Barnstormers, leading them to win the 2006 Atlantic League Championship Series. This victory drew the attention of the Washington Nationals, who ultimately signed Herr to manage their AA team in Hagerstown, Maryland.

Tom Herr's son, Aaron, was drafted in 2000 by the Atlanta Braves and assigned to the rookie-level Gulf Coast Braves. He remained in the Braves organization until the 2006 season, when Herr signed with the Cincinnati Reds. The Reds initially assigned him to the A-level Chattanooga Lookouts, but worked his way up to the AAA-level Louisville Bats. Aaron's brother, Jordan, played for his hometown Lancaster Barnstormers in the latter part of their 2008 season in lieu of completing his senior year at the University of Pittsburgh. Jordan was signed by the Chicago White Sox and allocated to their minor league system following the Barnstormers' 2008 season.

Lancaster County is also the home of other Major League Baseball veterans like Gene Garber, John Parrish, and Bruce Sutter. Gene Garber is noted for ending Pete Rose's 44-game consecutive hitting streak, and ranks fifth in career pitching appearances. With 25 saves, Garber ranks second to John Smoltz on the Atlanta Braves all-time save list. John Parrish, an alumnus of J.P. McCaskey High School, is a relief pitcher for the Toronto Blue Jays. Bruce Sutter, notable for the popularization of the split-finger fastball, was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006. Sutter has many other awards including a Cy Young Award, a Babe Ruth Award, four Rolaids Relief Man of the Year Awards, and six National League All-Star selections.


The only professional basketball team in South Central Pennsylvania is the Harrisburg Horizon of the Eastern Basketball Alliance. The Horizon is the five-time champion of the Eastern Basketball Alliance, most recently in 2006.

From 1997 to 2000, the Eastern Basketball Alliance held a Lancaster-based franchise called the Storm. The Lancaster Storm won the league championship in 1999. Other former teams from Lancaster included the Red Roses and the Lightning. Both teams played in the Continental Basketball Association; the Red Roses from 1946 to 1949, and from 1953 to 1955; the Lightning played in Lancaster from 1981-1985.

In 2004, there was an attempt by the American Basketball Association to place a team called the Hershey Nighthawks in the region, but that team was eventually moved to Montgomery County, Maryland. That team is now a member of the Premier Basketball League, known as the Maryland Nighthawks.


Professional golf is well represented by Manheim Township High School alumnus, Jim Furyk. He placed 4th in the 1998 and 2003 Masters tournament, won the 2003 U.S. Open, placed 4th in the 1997, 1998, and 2006 British Open, and placed 6th in the 1997 PGA championship. Furyk also won the Vardon Trophy in 2006.

The 2015 U.S. Women's Open will be held at the Lancaster Country Club.[1]

Ice hockey[edit]

The Hershey Bears, owned by The Hershey Company, represent the entire South Central Pennsylvania region. Started in 1932, the Bears are the oldest member of the American Hockey League, the AAA-level of the North American ice hockey organizational structure. The team is an eleven-time Calder Cup champion, most recently in the 2009-2010 season.

The city of York hosted the IceCats of the North Eastern Hockey League in the 2003-2004 season. The team played at the York City Ice Arena, but moved to St. Catharines, Ontario in 2005. The now defunct Mid-Atlantic Hockey League initially showed interest in placing a team in York, but those efforts never came into fruition.

The Central Penn Panthers of the junior-level Atlantic Metropolitan Hockey League play in the city of Lancaster.

Indoor football[edit]

The Harrisburg Stampede is the first indoor or indoor football team in the South Central Pennsylvania region. The Stampede play at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center. In 2012, the York Capitals became the second indoor football team in the area.

Lancaster Classic[edit]

Lancaster is home to the Lancaster Classic, a professional road bicycle racing event held each June since 1992. The Classic is part of the 2006-2007 UCI America Tour and the 2007 USA Cycling Professional Tour.


Soccer is widely played in the South Central Pennsylvania region, and hosts a professional teams called the Harrisburg City Islanders. The City Islanders play at the Skyline Sports Complex, located on Harrisburg's City Island. Harrisburg also has an indoor soccer team called the Harrisburg Heat that plays their home games at the Pennsylvania Farm Show Complex & Expo Center and participates in the Professional Arena Soccer League.

The Lancaster Inferno is an amateur women's soccer team that is a member of the Women's Premier Soccer League. It is part of the Pennsylvania Classics organization, which is an umbrella for many soccer clubs in the Central Pennsylvania region.

Field Hockey[edit]

In 2013, USA Field Hockey announced their intentions to move its national training center for the United States women's national field hockey team to Lancaster County. They have signed with Spooky Nook Sports through 2022 after searching for many years for a Northeastern site.[2]


South Central Pennsylvania produced such Olympic swimmers as Anita Nall and Jeremy Linn of Harrisburg, Leah Gingrich of Enola, Josef Kinderwater of Lancaster, Tricia Weaner of Gettysburg, Whitney Metzler of Dallastown, and Katie Nolan of Hershey.