When asked about iconic, century-old ballparks, most baseball fans will gravitate towards Boston’s Fenway Park or Chicago’s Wrigley Field. For good reason, too. These historic stadiums are certainly worthy of their status – the Green Monster at Fenway and Wrigley’s ivy-covered outfield walls have been etched into the memories of baseball fans across the country.
Ask about the third most iconic baseball diamond and the answer isn’t quite so cut and dry. The new Yankee Stadium is a modern imitation of the old Yankee Stadium, Camden Yards looks old (but really isn’t), the original Comiskey Park was demolished in 1991 (and the replacement “Comiskey Park” has since been renamed). With the exception of 1960’s Dodger Stadium and Kansas City’s Kaufman Field, the remaining “old” stadiums in the big leagues are mostly domed eyesores from the 1990s.
The question might stump fans nationwide, but in Evansville, Indiana, the answer is pretty clear: Bosse Field, home of the Independent Frontier League’s Evansville Otters.
Since opening its doors to a then-record 8,082 fans on June 17, 1915, Bosse Field has continuously housed minor league pro teams for over a century. It’s the third oldest in-use professional baseball field in the United States, trailing only Fenway (1912) and Wrigley (1914).
The field was also the first municipally owned professional sports stadium in the country and was even named after former mayor Benjamin Bosse, a man instrumental in the stadium’s approval and development.
Over the years, the stadium has hosted a wide variety of minor league baseball teams and one (pre-merger) NFL football team. The first inhabitants of the stadium, the Evansville River Rats, won the Central League Championship in 1915, the only year they played at Bosse. Since then, teams have won 9 more championships – most recently, the Evansville Otters won in 2016.
Between 1926 and 1984, a series of major league affiliated teams played at Bosse and a number of future MLB players took the field. Most notably, Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg played for the Evansville Hubs in 1931, back when he was a prospect in the Detroit system. In the 1970s and early ’80s, the AAA Evansville Triplets served as the top affiliate for the Minnesota Twins (1970), Milwaukee Brewers (71-73) and the Detroit Tigers (74-84).
Ironically, with all due respect to Hank Greenberg, the most celebrated residents of Bosse didn’t even exist. In 1992, the field was extensively used for the filming of “A League of their Own”, the Citizen Kane of baseball movies starring Madonna.
For visitors to Evansville and Google map enthusiasts, Bosse Field is located on 23 Don Mattingly Way in Evansville, Indiana – Donnie Baseball never played for an Evansville pro team, but he did grow up in town.