Speed Read: Home-Field Advantages
For a state lacking a major-league franchise, Indiana is crushing it in baseball: Of our five biggest minor-league ballparks, two have won best-in-show awards, two stand among baseball’s most historic, several were immortalized in America’s favorite women’s baseball movie, and one sits under the summer skyline next to a park and a zoo. Play ball!
Bosse Field, Evansville. Behind Fenway and Wrigley, the oldest continuously operating pro U.S. ballpark sits in Indiana’s southern tip, where Bosse Field has hosted action since 1915. In that time, it’s been home to Indiana’s best team names: the River Rats, Triplets, Evas, Bees, Hubs, Pocketeers, and, now, Otters (of the independent Frontier League). Best upcoming event: August 18 is Harry Potter night, so the stadium may be surrounded by flying Dementors. MVPs: Warren Spahn, Bob Uecker, Bert Blyleven, Don Mattingly.
League Stadium, Huntingburg. Modern baseball has consented to its share of upgrades—walk-up songs, chef-run cafes, high-end coffee shops—and you’ll find precisely none of them at this 1894 park in southwestern Indiana, home of the Dubois County Bombers. Vintage-look signage towers over the field, the setting for A League of Their Own and the HBO Negro League movie Soul of the Game. And the Bombers play in the Ohio Valley League, which uses wooden bats and old-timey uniforms. Best upcoming event: On July 15, it’s Christmas in July (since you’re less than a half-hour’s drive from Santa Claus, Indiana). MVPs: Satchel Paige. Also, Madonna and Tom Hanks.
Four Winds Field, South Bend. The South Bend Cubs: like their major-league counterparts, only with way cheaper tickets and a functioning parking lot. The Class A affiliate of Your World Champion Chicago Cubs— a title that still doesn’t sound right— won the President’s Award, the top minor-league honor, in 2015—another feather in the cap of a city whose rising-star mayor is helping it onto the major-league stage. Best upcoming event: August 31 is Double Dare Night, thus merging baseball and slime. MVPs: Brandon Webb, Justin Upton.
Parkview Field, Fort Wayne. The TinCaps, named after Johnny Appleseed’s cookpot headgear, play at what’s basically the Yankee Stadium of the minors. The 2016 winner of the President’s Award is home to the Class A affiliate of the San Diego Padres. Watch them from Parkview’s Treetops seating, modeled after the rooftops at Wrigley; its Home Run Porch is a nod to the Green Monster at Fenway. On weekdays, take the free trolley from downtown to the gates for extra Americana. Best upcoming event: Cheap plastic-cup beer be damned, July 24 is Martini Tasting Night. MVPs: Jake Peavy, LaTroy Hawkins, Torii Hunter.
U.S. Steel Yard, Gary. This stadium, nestled beneath the region’s web of steel mills, doesn’t exactly sit on the most idyllic real estate for a ballpark. But since 2003, the Gary SouthShore Railcats—members of the American Association—have been a solid baseball presence here. The outfield Bennigan’s closed some time ago, but a new restaurant has gone in across the stadium, and luxury suites are reasonably priced and well-stocked. Best upcoming event: July 7 is Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon Night, featuring appropriate concession specials. MVP: Randall Simon.
Victory Field, Indianapolis. Not to play hometown favorites, but what’s not to like? Skyline views, picnic areas, postgame fireworks, and a short stroll to the Canal and downtown. And it’s working—over the past four summers, the Indians have either led the minors in attendance or broken a single-season attendance record. Best upcoming events: There’s basically a ballpark GenCon in the works, with a Captain American bobblehead giveaway (July 1), Star Wars Night (July 15), Thor bobblehead giveaway (July 29), and Batman and Robin cape giveaway (August 12). MVPs: Andrew McCutcheon, Randy Johnson, Roger Maris, George Foster.