8/19/2017 / Padres360.com / @Padres360
By Wayne McBrayer from Evansville, IN
Evansville, Indiana is the third largest city in the state of Indiana, with a population of about 120,000. It is situated on an oxbow in the Ohio River, and the 38th parallel crosses the north side of the city and is marked by Highway 69, and is very close to the states of Kentucky and Illinois. This was the place that I would be spending part of my vacation and the area close to Rebecca Herman, the co-founder of our baseball journey blog Padres360.
Several years ago, I wrote a story about trying to acquire an Otters jersey, and I repurposed the story over to Padres360 and re-released it. I concluded the story talking about wanting to go to Bosse Field and meet John Nester. Since that story, John signed with the San Diego Padres and is now a roving minor league catcher’s coach with the club. Since he was no longer there, I decided to check out the current roster and found out a former Lake Elsinore Storm player was on the team; catcher Dane Phillips. He left the Padres organization after the 2014 season and has been playing for the Otters for the last 3 years.
I contacted Zane Clodfelter, the PA Announcer for the Evansville Otters, and asked if Rebecca and I could interview Dane, which Zane and Manager Andy McCauley arranged for us to do. We were told we would have media credentials and 2 tickets waiting for us when we arrived at Bosse Field! I also went out on a limb and asked if they arranged tours of the stadium and Zane wrote that Rebecca and I would be given a tour of the park. The date of our interview would be August 8, and we needed to be there at 4:30 to be able to talk to Dane. We would also get to see up close the 3rd oldest ballpark in the country where names like Warren Spann, Bert Blyleven and many other famous players had played baseball. For me as a writer, but most importantly, a baseball fan, I could not wait to walk on what I considered holy baseball ground.
As we pulled up to the brick structure of Bosse Field, we were greeted by Rebecca’s longtime friend Kimi Morgan. Kimi walked up and gave me a hug and said she “finally got to meet Wayne face to face.” We chatted for a few minutes and then walked up to the ticket booth to get our credentials when we ran into our friend and longtime Otters Booster, Julie Winstead. Rebecca and I had gotten to know Julie on Facebook after our stories about Andrew Werner and John Nester. We commemorated the moment by taking this picture.
We walked inside Bosse Field and were greeted by Otters Manager, Andy McCauley, who shook our hand and told us that “Dane would be out in a few minutes to talk to us.” Andy was very friendly and seemed happy that we were going to interview one of his players. Zane Clodfelter came out and greeted us and then Dane walked out and shook our hands. We walked over to a table away from the entrance to the park and we started the interview.
Upon completing the interview, Zane took Rebecca and I on a tour of Historic Bosse Field. Zane walked us around the park and told us some of the history of the field. How the bricks were added in the “1950’s due to the original plaster type surfacing falling into disrepair.” We proceeded to walk inside the stadium and see all the vintage signs as well as the Racine Belles sign that was put up for the movie A League Of Their Own. All I could think of was how this stadium was over 100 years old, looked old, but yet looked well maintained and kept up, a tribute to the people of Evansville who love this park. These are some of the signs we saw while inside the park.
Zane led us up to the broadcast booth where they not only do radio but also video stream the ballgames. We walked over to the place where Zane spends every ballgame, announcing the players names and interacting with the staff on the field. Zane told us about how the broadcast booth use to be on the roof of the ballpark but was closed down and demolished years ago. The stairs that lead to the roof are still in the office area (but padlocked). Zane relayed a story about 2 broadcasters from a Denver affiliate years previous getting locked in the booth and unable to get off the roof. They ended up walking out and waving their shirts in the air and screamed for help but no help came. They finally were able to broadcast a message to Denver and had them call the police in Evansville so they could get off the roof. A very funny story and I can see why they changed the broadcast location.
We left the booth and were shown 2 commemorative seats. One that honored POW/MIA’s and the other honored a long time fan named Marvin Gray, who was a local fixture in Evansville sports for almost 50 years.
As our tour ended, we walked back and met up with Kimi, Julie, Sandy (Rebecca’s mom) and Rebecca’s son, Trevor. We took some pictures of the ticket booth as well as the Otters Mascot Evan the Otter. We walked in the gift shop and saw the 2016 Frontier League Championship trophy (Rebecca and I followed the series, even while attending games at Petco.)
We walked down to our VIP Seats ($10) and ordered some food and a couple of beers. We started with a small beer but ended up with the BIGGEST beer I have ever seen sold at a ballgame. A 32 ounce craft beer called Otter Beer and boy, was it good! Oh, and the price for that hefty beer you ask? Try 8 bucks! I can hear Ron Fowler choking right now at the very thought of charging that extremely reasonable price.
We settled in to watch the game between the first place Florence Freedom and the second place Evansville Otters. The game went back and forth and both teams battled the whole way but the Florence came out of top 7-5. All in all, it was an enjoyable game made better by friends and family who joined in on our adventure.
As we left the stadium, we encountered this sign reminding me that I was on “holy baseball ground” but the part that made us stop was the view as we exited the park. Wayne quickly pulled out his camera and recorded what we saw.
Overall, our ballpark experience was one that this fan will never forget. Three years earlier, I wanted an Evansville Otters jersey with Andrew Werner‘s number, which happened to be the then current number of John Nester, which led me to interview John and put in my head that I needed to go to Bosse Field and see it with my own eyes. The Frontier League is where players go to get back to the majors and I was glad to be here that night and watch the men pursue the dreams that I am sure date back to their childhood.
We will continue to cheer you and the Otters on and hope that each of you are given a chance to go to the Big Leagues.