Friday, July 8, 2016

The Evansville Otters

I admit it, the Otters have been my white whale for the last couple years. I kept trying to fit them into a baseball trip, but they never quite meshed. Evansville is a nice town on the southern end of Indiana and you have to want to travel there to get there. I did and I did.

The Evansville Otters are the last remaining founding team in the Frontier League. It's housed in Bosse Field which they are very proud of. This field is more aesthetically pleasing than most fields I've been to over the last couple years. Instead of the miles and miles of concrete which surrounds most stadiums, Bosse has these strange things called "grass" and "trees" around the park. There's actually shade outside the park as you wait to go in.  It's a bloomin' miracle.

Once you get inside, the park is filled with old-timey ads which are actually a legacy of when "A Field of Their Own" filmed there. They have female employees wearing the uniforms that were worn in the movie and the usher who meets you as you walk in is wearing an old-school white usher uniform complete with milkman style hat. The people working the stadium were extremely friendly and if you buy the reserved seats behind home plate they will bring your food to you.

The layout of the stadium is a big circle which on the one hand seemed old fashioned, but on the other hand seemed a much better design than I've seen at a lot of modern parks. Everyone had seats they could see from and shade too (it was a midday game). Behind the plate they had replaced some of the closer seat with plastic ones, but a large part of the stadium had old wooden seats and I mean old wooden seats, not faux old wooden seats. They were obviously cannibalizing some of the seats at the far ends of the stadium to keep the rest in good shape. Still, the vast majority of the seats were in good shape. The day I was there I think about a thousand people were in the stadium and it had room to seat a lot more comfortably. Sure, the stadium could use a little cash influx to fix some stuff, but that just means it's a really nice stadium instead of an awesome. Heck, if I had the money, I'd buy the AA Mobile Bay Bears, rename it Otters, and move it to this stadium. As it stands, without a single luxury box, Bosse's a better stadium than the one in Mobile. The number of A and A+ stadiums it's better than must be fairly large. Asheville and Potomac come to mind without much thought so I'm sure there any number of others. If MLB ever gets off its duff and expands it needs to snap up this place as somebody's affiliate.

I always enjoy Frontier League games because it feels more like they are playing for something as a team rather than as individuals trying to make their statistics impressive enough to get moved up to the next level. It's not entirely true, of course. The Frontier League is acting as an unaffiliated, unpaid-for, rookie/single A league for MLB. Still, while affiliated baseball occasionally buys out a contract that's not happening for the large majority of them and you feel like you're watching guys who are there because they want to play ball and they are having fun doing so (it sure as heck can't be for the pay). The Otters are the best unaffiliated minor league experience I've had to date.