Congratulations to the communities of Hershey and Harrisburg, Pa., for their designation as the top minor league market in America, according to the Sports Business Journal. The Journal merely coronated what those of us who regularly visit central Pa. have known for some years — there is no match in per capita passion for the puckheads following the Bears. Here’s what the Journal had to say about this sports-mad valley:
“These two neighboring communities, sandwiched by Super Bowl-winning, Stanley Cup-touting Pittsburgh to the west and World Series title-carrying Philadelphia to the east, have shown a sustained ability to look inward. Even during the past five years, when the marketplace has seen almost no growth in population or total wealth, and its unemployment rate has doubled and tourist spending has dropped, support for the Hershey Bears and the Harrisburg Senators has remained.”
We’ve written about our farm in volumes here for three years, most often poorly conveying the passion that endures, through recessions, just 80 miles to our North. It’s a lengthy and terrific passion profile in the Journal that you really ought to peruse.
Bears’ GM Doug Yingst sums it up best, I think: “The Bears existed before the Flyers, before the Steelers, so in the old days, it was all Hershey” . . .said Yingst, who grew up near Hershey in the 1950s and 1960s. “Even today, in central Pennsylvania, children are Bears fans first, and most of them want to grow up to be a Bear.”