Review originally posted on Stadium Journey
The smell of white clover fills your nose on a hot day outside of beautiful Bosse Field. Surrounded by Garvin Park to the north and Main Street to the south, you are in a great position to stroll through downtown or walk from the park to the ballpark.
Bosse Field has two major claims to fame; it is the third oldest ballpark in the United States (behind Fenway and Wrigley), and it was the setting for several of the scenes in the 1992 film, A League of Their Own . While there are tributes to the film, both around the stadium and with some of the female personnel, what you feel most of all is the vintage nature of the stadium.
Opened in 1915, it cost only $65,000 to build. Fans could get a seat in the grandstand for as little as a quarter at the time. Today, that same seat will cost you $5, a very reasonable sum to see this historic stadium.
FANFARE Score: 29
Food & Beverage: 4
Get ready for some large portions! You can get a full chicken dinner from local favorite Black Buggy featuring two pieces of fried chicken, a side of potatoes or vegetables, and a slice of thick, homemade bread, all for $8. Outside of that special, there is no food at the general concession stands that will cost you over $3.50. The typical ballpark favorites can be found there.
Pepsi products can be found at an inflated price of $3.25 for a 20-ounce bottle. Beer, on the other hand, can be found in two economical sizes, including a 32-ounce brew for $5.50-a definite bargain. If that’s too much for you, then try the $4 small size.
History hangs in the air, and that zen feeling that sometimes comes with watching baseball overtakes you as you settle in to your seat. Which reminds me, seats are a serious issue at Bosse Field. The front three rows ($8 per seat) are fantastic. They are comfortable with plenty of leg room, and a great view of the action. Above the aisle are lovely old wooden seats. Here’s the thing, they’re lovely until you sit in them. They are not very comfortable, and some of them are damaged. It’s definitely worth the extra $3 to get in the front three rows.
Outside of that criticism, Bosse Field should be on every baseball lovers’ list of must-see venues. I absolutely love the minor quirks and the ability to visualize the past within the red brick walls. The dugouts are pushed more towards the back of home plate than any other field I have seen. Down the line, the bullpen catcher’s plate actually sits in fair territory.
The original lay out had home plate where the pitching mound sits now, and the original outfield wall still stands beyond the current wall, so spectators can get a good mental image of the field when it was first built.
A depressed little downtown area still offers some quality should you be looking for some post or pre-game food or drinks. Right across the street is a dive of a place called the Hickory Pit Stop. To be completely honest, the only reason I ventured inside was because I had to use the bathroom. Thank you bladder, because this place serves up some excellent BBQ. It may be foreboding from the outside, and the drink selection is nothing to write home about, but you’ll be glad you stopped in, whatever your motivation.
Further down Main Street is Turoni’s Pizzeria & Brewery, a place I highly recommend. Go for the sampler to try the five standard beers brewed right on site. I especiall liked the Vinny’s Light, and Blue-Eyed Moose IPA. The best of all was the Ol’ 23 Stout. The pizza is also very good with every topping you can imagine, served on a thin, tasty crust.
The fans at an Evansville Otters game are into the baseball more than most minor league baseball fans. When you have nearly 100 years of baseball tradition, that gets passed down through the generations and becomes part of the fabric for your fan base. The only unfortunate part of my experience when it came to the fans was that the place was only half full, and it was opening weekend for the team.
There is plenty of free parking nearby or within a couple of blocks from the field if you park on Main Street. Bathrooms are cleaner than you may expect for such an old facility, and there are no lines to worry about.
Return on Investment: 5
For this time machine trip, I would have gladly paid more. I appreciate that kids five and under are free, and that the Otters give a 20% discount to seniors over age 55. Food and beverage is plentiful, and fairly priced. If I lived in or near Evansville, I would own season tickets, and that’s as high of a compliment as I can pay a stadium- I just want to go again and again.
The fact of the matter is that there really are no bonus points necessary for this park, but I did want to make mention of a few other things that made the visit memorable. First, I had a great interaction with the head groundskeeper, who passed me as I was taking a lap around the exterior of the stadium, snapping some pictures. He said, “You know this is the third oldest park in the country, but we have the oldest warning track. Well, I better get to work.” This was about 6-7 hours before first pitch, and he seemed just happy to be going about his job.
I also appreciated the uniforms worn by the female personnel, including ball girls down the line, as they resembled the uniforms seen in A League of Their Own .
It was also rewarding to see how many kids seemed to be hanging out around the park, playing catch, hitting balls, and just generally being part of the baseball atmosphere. There are Little League fields within Garvin Park, so that just adds to the baseball jubilation.
Finally, a point for that homey warm feeling that will come over you as the baseball begins within the walls of Bosse Field. It’s like macaroni and cheese, or pancakes, or chocolate chip cookies.
Bosse Field in Evansville, Indiana is one of the last bastions of pure baseball. Go to support the Otters. Go to support the city of Evansville. Go because you love baseball. Just go. You won’t regret it.
Paul Swaney is the Co-Founder of StadiumJourney.com