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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Bosse Field – Evansville Otters


Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.57

Bosse Field 23 Don Mattingly Way Evansville, IN 47711

Year Opened: 1915 Capacity: 5,000

 

Bosse Field is a Foe to Time

“The big concrete amphitheater, with its great arch roof, steel beams, constructed throughout of fireproof materials, will stand as a foe to time. Not only will it host present generations, the generations to come will meet there for amusement purposes and long after every man in Evansville connected with the building of the big stands is dead and gone, the stadium will stand as a monument to the city.”


Those were the words that read in the Evansville Journal about the city’s new and modern Bosse Field on June 13, 1915. The terms “a foe to time” and “a monument to the city” have been prophetic and wisely stated; as of this writing the facility is the third oldest professional ballpark after Boston’s Fenway Park and Chicago’s Wrigley Field.


Bosse Field was built as a result of an accident at the city’s League Stadium that had been constructed in 1894. Temporary bleachers collapsed during Field Day events on May 22, 1914 and 50 people were injured. Field Day was a large, annual event where students from local schools would put on performances featuring music, dance, patriotic displays and calisthenics for the Evansville public.

Mayor Benjamin Bosse wanted to build a ballpark yet did not have the city funding. He had to sell the idea of a multi-use facility to the school board in order to get it completed. A total of 10 acres of Garvin Park was selected at a reported cost of $10,000 and construction began on February 15th, 1915. A little over four months later on June 17th the stadium was dedicated at 1 p.m., followed by a baseball game at 3:15 and a wrestling match later that evening.


For the next several decades minor league baseball, high school sports, and even a National Football League team found a home at the stadium. Ball club nicknames included the River Rats, Evas, Pocketeers, Hubs, Bees, Braves, and White Sox. The Evansville Triplets, a Detroit Tigers Triple-A club, were the last affiliated club to call the ballpark home in 1984.


The Evansville Otters have called the historic ballpark home since its inception in 1995 and improvements were made the following seasons that included a new press box, new scoreboard, and new concrete entrance. The Otters are oldest franchise in the independent Frontier League and have captured five division and two league championships.


The stadium looks very different and, yet, very similar to its debut over a century ago. The shape of the main grandstand and roof looks similar, the basic design of the main facade from the exterior has changed little, and even the parking lot has remained the same. A 1930 renovation replaced the stucco to brick and in 1957 improvements were made with all new seating in the grandstand, new dugouts, and repairs were made to the portion of the first base concourse that had been previously roped off the prior season.


Bosse Field is an example of baseball from another time and its aura can be felt the moment you walk through the main entrance. To many, it’s a tourist attraction and a baseball destination for ballpark travelers. However, it remains “a foe to time” and “a monument to the city” and one of the last of its kind in professional baseball.


Food & Beverage 3

There are concession stands inside and outside the grandstand that offer an array of menu items that include hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, brats, and french fries that are served with chili and cheese. A variety of the items sell between $3.50 to $6.


A few recommendations include the jalapeño brat or pork tenderloin sandwich, and the bucket of fries is a great deal at $3. The nachos are served with white cheese sauce that is somewhat different than the neon yellow variety served at most ballparks and you can have it topped with pulled pork at a cost of $7.


The beer selection includes a variety of Budweiser products that sell for $5 for a 16-ounce draft or $9 for a 32-ounce draft. This also includes the clubs very own Otter Ale, a pale ale that is brewed locally by Carson’s Brewery. There are a few more craft selects that cost between $5 to $6.25 and include Yazoo (Nashville), Goose Island IPA, and Schnitz (Jasper, Indiana). Pepsi products are served if you choose or do not drink beer.


Atmosphere 4

Bosse Field offers the quintessential old-school baseball experience. The arched grandstand and covered roof provide fans a glimpse of baseball of another era. With that being said, there are many aspects of the stadium that are still very basic from its simple scoreboard, narrow concourse, and a lack of a wraparound concourse.


The covered grandstand is a nice little touch on hot and humid days for fans to get ample amount of shading; if they are somewhat closer to the top of the seating area, a nice little breeze provides relief. The team's official mascot can be seen walking around the concourse and poses for photos when applicable.


The Otterbelles are a group of young ladies who sometimes dress in baseball dresses from the movie; they perform in-between innings, handle promotions, and come around to fans with garbage bags for trash pickup.


Still, the main attraction is the 100-year-old baseball stadium that features a classic entrance, brick exterior and interior, and old advertisements that were left behind from the film A League of Their Own. The large foul territory is a pitcher’s friend and the two dugouts are positioned a little bit closer to one another near the backstop.


There is a kids zone outside the first base side of the grandstand that features inflatables, pitching, and hitting zones. The Bud Light Lime Patio is an addition behind the right field wall for groups of 10 or more.


Neighborhood 3

The stadium is located two miles from downtown in a residential and commercial district and there are three great pizza places to stop by after the game. Deerhead Pizza is set in an 1860s building that features live jazz, Turoni’s Pizzery & Brewing is a local favorite set in a rustic building and offering thin-crust pizza and craft-made beer, and Azzip Pizza offers the Westsider that features barbecue sauce, pulled pork, red onions, Grippos potato chip seasonings, and Ski cola reduction.


Another regional item is the fried brain sandwich that is on the menu at the Hilltop Inn. The historic restaurant has been in business since 1839 and a fried brain sandwich on a hamburger bun with pickles and onions for $9.50. The mushy sandwich is for the faint hearted, you will probably either like it or despise it.


If you make your way downtown check out Bru Burger that is located inside the old Greyhound Bus Terminal, in fact, the restored signage outside the building still exists. Brew Brothers Tap House is located inside the Tropicana Casino and offers select $3 drafts along with a great brisket sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce, and The Rooftop offers food and drink with rooftop seating during the warm months.


Evansville is home to a few more breweries that include Carson’s Brewery, Maidens Brewery & Pub, Myriad Brewing Company, and Haynie's Corner Brewing Company.


Evansville also features the Dream Car Museum, Mesker Park Zoo, Evansville Children's Museum, Evansville Museum of Arts, History and Science to keep you busy during your stay in the River City. Also, the Tropicana Evansville Casino is located along the river walk and offers free parking for all patrons.


Fans 3

We visited the game during camp game but the young fans provided a nice soundtrack to the game that was taking place on the diamond. Average attendance for Otters games are around 2,000 each season and many in the grandstand are there for baseball or just a night out with friends and family. If you are lucky, you might be able to talk to someone who has a plethora of stories from the ballpark's 10 decades of use.


Access 3

The historic ballpark is located just west of Route 41 and just north of downtown Evansville. It is at the southeast corner of Garvin Park. Bathrooms, concessions, and seat locations are clearly marked inside the ballpark. Parking is free of charge for all cars in a parking lot adjacent to the stadium.


Return on Investment 5

The cost of a single ticket in advance is $5 for a general admission ticket, the price increases to $6 at noon the day of the game. The GA tickets are the upper sections of seating underneath the grandstand. The field box seats are $10 and include in-seat wait service. VIP tickets are $12 and also include in-seat wait service. There is no charge for parking and concession items are reasonably priced.


Extras 4

Bosse Field earns a point for being the third oldest ballpark in professional baseball and appears to be in rather sound condition. The second point is for the vintage ads that were incorporated for the motion picture A League of Their Own; they add a nice touch to the historic venue. The grandstand earns a third point for its multiple vantage points that are ideal for photographs for games. The final point is for the Otterbelles who are a group of young ladies who sometimes dress in baseball dresses from the movie; they perform in-between innings, handle promotions, and come around to fans with garbage bags for trash pickup.


Final Thoughts

Bosse Field is an example of baseball from another time and its aura can be felt the moment you walk through the main entrance. To many, it’s a tourist attraction and a baseball destination for ballpark travelers. However, it remains “a foe to time” and “a monument to the city” and one of the last of its kind in professional baseball.

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