Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baseball Place No. 69, Land Stadium; Alternative Place No. 69A: Victory Field

How important to a stadium is the view beyond centerfield?

Josh Pahgian taps a seaside park in San Diego for place No. 69 in his “101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out.”

Carroll B. Land Stadium is on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University, built into the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Baseball America named it the most scenic ballpark in the country.

I’ve never been there, but I did get to what the Baseball America called the best ballpark in the minors.

That would be:

Alternative Place No. 69A: Victory Field

As Pat Zachary will surely tell you, it’s difficult to replace a legend. Yet that’s what the Indianapolis Indians Triple-A team tried to do when in wanted to replace Owen J. Bush Stadium in the mid-1990s.

Not only was Bush a classic, old-school ballpark, but was a movie star, too serving as the backdrop for "Eight Men Out."

But Victory Field does a fine job.

The Baseball Truth gang made Victory our Day 2 stop for the 2007 Executive Game the day after watching the Cubs smack around the Reds in Cincinnati.

We were impressed. Fans enter the brick ballpark through the centerfield gates, strolling around the grassy berm seating area before entering a two-deck seating area.

The view from the seats is spectacular, showing off the Indianapolis skyline and the RCA Dome. The park has room for about 15,000 people, but didn’t seem that large from the inside.

Located downtown, the ballpark opened in 1996 and is surrounded by the Indianapolis Zoo, the NCAA Hall of Champions, the Indiana State Museum and other cultural institutions.

It takes its name from the original ballpark, which opened as Perry Stadium in 1931 but was renamed Victory Field in 1942 to salute celebrate victory in World War II, which wasn’t over at that point. It was renamed after Bush, a former player, manager and owner, in 1967.

Will, Scott, Scott's daughter Leah and I arrived early – of course – and found some fun, playing baseball-themed carnival games and checking out the usual assortment of ballpark snacks.

We had seats in the upper deck along the first base side, and found them not too high at all, kind of like the old upper seating area at Tiger Stadium.

Leah got a little bored halfway through the game, so she and I went exploring. We managed to sit right behind the home dugout for a spell, watching coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens interact with fans.
Scott and Leah had fun playing on the berm in the outfield -- a great place to see the game, too.

Then we mingled and posed with players in the bullpen, ran up and down the berms for a while, made it over to the other bullpen for more mingling and posing and finally caught up with Rowdie, the mascot.

Darned if I can figure out what Rowdie is supposed to be. He looked kind of like an opossum with a baseball for a nose.

We enjoyed a tight game, with the visiting Charlotte Knights beating the Indians 3-2,with Darin Erstad making a rehab appearance.

Sports Illustrated, too, called Victory Field the best minor-league ballpark in America. I don’t know if I’d call it that. I might opt for Holman Field in Vero Beach. But Victory sure was all that we’d hoped for and a fine way to close out another successful Executive Game weekend.

And I'm a little strange, but I'd rather see a cool skyline over the centerfield wall than the ocean.


csd said...

This year I visited Victory Field for the first time. It was a great stadium. Modern Woodmen Park (O'Donnell Stadium) also has a great backdrop. The Centenial Bridge and the Mississippi Bridge are in the outfield.

Anonymous said...

can you believe a girl is reading about sports. lol :) i can't help it i love it!

mandie reed

quinnjf said...

I've actually been to both! I lived in Bloomington for many years and loved going to Indians games. It is a terrific minor league ballpark.

Now I work at PLNU--small world--and I have to say, Land Stadium does have an incredible view. This photo doesn't really do it justice - You kind of have to be there when the sun sets....