Built in 1894, the grandstand at Huntingburg Park has seen its share of exhibits, shows, races, and certainly baseball games.
There have been a number of changes to the grandstand over the years, and a variety of baseball teams have played on the field. Prior to the grandstand becoming League Stadium, the home teams included the Huntingburg Rustics, the Greys, the Browns, the Babies, the Athletics, and the Merchants. And, of course, the high school teams, the Huntingburg Happy Hunters and the Southridge Raiders…League Stadium remains the home of the Raiders.
There’s much history associated with the grandstand and the field. Barnstormers came through the area in the early 1960s and we saw Satchel Paige and his fellow Buckeyes play on the field and pose for pictures with local Little Leaguers.
In the mid-80s, the west end of the grandstand was demolished due to deteriorating conditions.
Several years later, Hollywood came on the scene. While scouting locations for a film about the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, Hollywood discovered Huntingburg’s grandstand. As the grandstand retained much of the look of the 1940s, Columbia Pictures wanted it to become the home of the Rockford Peaches in the movie A League Of Their Own. But they needed to expand the stadium. Negotiations took place and they created a permanent structure that would stand and be usable long after the lights and cameras were gone. Our grandstand regained it’s grandeur. It now seats 2,783.
In the summer of 1991, our ‘new’ old grandstand was besieged by the likes of Tom Hanks, Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori, Petty, Jon Lovitz, Rosie O’Donnell and David Strathairn. Under the direction of Penny Marshall, A League Of Their Own took shape. Local residents dressed in 1940s garb to be extras in the extreme heat of that summer. And a hit movie was made.
The field and grandstand became League Stadium in the fall of 1991.
Hollywood called again in 1995, when Home Box Office (HBO) took advantage of the vintage look of the grandstand to film Soul Of The Game to chronicle the days of the Negro League. This time the grandstand was transformed into Blues Stadium, home of the Kansas City Monarchs where Satchel Paige competed with Josh Gibson and Jackie Robinson to be the first black player to enter the Major Leagues. The file was directed by Kevin Sullivan with Blair Underwood playing Jackie Robinson.
Semi-professional baseball returned to the stadium when the Dubois County Dragons of the Heartland League were formed in 1996. The Heartland League folded in 1998 after three seasons, but professional baseball wasn’t gone for long. The Dragons joined the Frontier League and started playing the following year. From 1999-2002 the Dragons called League Stadium home before moving to Kenosha, WI.
In 2005, summer baseball was back with the arrival of the Dubois County Bombers. A collegiate wooden-bat team, the Bombers were initially in the Central Illinois Collegiate League (CICL), then merged into the Prospect League in 2009. In 2013, the Bombers join the Ohio Valley League (OVL).
League Stadium is the Bombers home field. The Bombers play in vintage-inspired uniforms – pants are knickered, stirrups are worn. The crack of a baseball against a wooden bat resounds. Our own Peaches are in League Stadium during the games making sure the crowd has a great time. Every night is throwback night when the Bombers play at League Stadium.