- Written by Lynda Hudzick Lynda Hudzick
Jim Beamenderfer remembers how excited he was when he first started hearing rumors that Lancaster was getting a minor league baseball team.
“I always said, if it happens, I’m going after a job at the stadium. I just thought it was great that Lancaster was getting a minor league team!”
Well, it did happen in 2005, Beamenderfer did go after that job, and he’s been a proud usher at Clipper Magazine Stadium, home of the Lancaster Barnstormers, ever since.
A diehard baseball fan, Elizabethtown native Beamenderfer really became interested in the sport when he was still in high school.
“Gene Garber, who was from E-town, started pitching for the Pirates, a major league team,” he said. “I thought, ‘Here is this cool guy in the majors, and he’s from the same town that I’m from!’”
So what better part-time job could there be for a baseball fan than actually working at a ballpark, getting paid and being able to watch the games at the same time?
Typically, Beamenderfer works April through mid-September and has a lot of flexibility in his work schedule.
“For example, if there is a seven-home-game stretch, I might work four out of the seven,” he said. “We submit our availability, and the Clipper staff are great to work with us to make it happen.”
Beamenderfer is responsible for making sure the seats in his assigned section are clean “in case the birdies fly over,” he said, while also keeping an eye on trash.
He helps people find their seats, but as the years have gone by, “we have a lot of regulars who come to the games, and they’re pretty familiar with the layout of the stadium,” Beamenderfer explained. “The stadium is really well marked.”
Although he doesn’t work in the same section each time, he has his favorite section assignments.
“I really enjoy working behind home plate because I’m close to the press box, and the guys in the press box are great, so much fun to interact with,” Beamenderfer said.
Because he worked as a radio announcer and DJ in the past, Beamenderfer has a great deal in common with the press box staff.
“I love Patsy Kline, and our DJ never plays her for me, except one night, when I was clearing the seats, he played one of her songs as a surprise, and I almost fell down the steps!”
A big benefit of working at the stadium all these years is getting to know the loyal fans who faithfully attend the games.
“We have really great fans. I enjoy talking baseball with them, although sometimes they want to talk longer than I’m able,” he said. “I do have a job to do, and although I am able to watch the game, I also have to keep an eye on the fans.”
There have been a few times when fans have suffered minor injuries, and in those cases the medical staff has been called to check on the situation. Beamenderfer said there haven’t been any security issues he’s been involved with.
“Our fans are great, really well behaved,” he said. “It’s a very family-friendly ballpark.”
Since the stadium opened in 2005, only Beamenderfer and one other gentleman have been working as ushers continuously.
“Bob and I have been here since it started,” he said. “But it can be exhausting, especially on hot nights, with all those stairs, and we’re not getting any younger! We just take it slower, but we still get the job done.”
There are many retirees working part-time jobs within the park, not only as ushers, but also as ticket takers, as parking attendants, and as part of the cleanup crew.
“We had an usher work up until he was at least 90,” Beamenderfer said. “His name was Dusty; he was a great guy. There is a banner behind section 17 honoring him.”
Not only is the stadium used for baseball, but other events are also hosted there throughout the year, and Beamenderfer has had the opportunity to work as an usher for some of those.
“I have worked some concerts, which I really enjoy because I love music,” he said. “We’ve also had graduations, tradeshows, and band competitions. It’s just neat how the stadium is used all year as a place for the community to hold events.
“I’ve been to other independent minor league ballparks, some newer than ours, and I just don’t think they’re nearly as nice or well kept,” he said. “This is really a beautiful stadium, and it’s done a lot for the area, and I think it’s been great for the city of Lancaster.”
Although COVID put a damper on things for a while, “attendance was really good last year,” Beamenderfer said. “Of course, we had a great second half of the season, so people really came out to support the team.”
After 18 years of ushering, Beamenderfer has no plans to stop any time soon.
“I love being outside, and I love the ballpark atmosphere,” he said. “I’ll keep doing this as long as I’m able. It’s a fun place to be, it’s a great organization to work for, and the fan base is very loyal. That tells you something about the quality of the experience people have at our ballpark.”