Column: Victory Field makes memories last

Jimmy Lafakis


INDIANAPOLIS — During my four years at Butler, I gained a critical piece of knowledge. Downtown Indianapolis is a sports fan’s sanctuary. It is home to Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Lucas Oil Stadium, the NCAA Hall of Champions and much more.

These venues are truly breathtaking, and I’m fortunate enough to have made several fond memories within their walls. However, Victory Field has staked its claim as the stadium that has truly captivated me.

Baseball just feels right on this diamond. The picturesque evening sky set the mood for Tuesday’s state championship contests. It was a historic evening for Dubois County, as both Southridge and Jasper competed for state championships on the same night.

It feels remarkable to write that fact. Nearly nine months in Dubois County have schooled me about the passion within these communities. There’s a sense of pride here, and it was special to watch both teams prepare for their respective title games.

A unique display of each Indiana high school baseball hat is located on Victory Field’s concourse. The state finalists’ hats were in the center of the display. It may seem like a small detail to some, but those eight hats signified the teams’ memorable campaigns. Victory Field knows how to honor its participating schools and student-athletes.

Photo by Kylie Schepers/The Herald
Jasper senior Eli Hopf (11) greets junior Connor Foley (24) after the latter scored in the bottom of the third in Tuesday’s Class 4A State Championship game against Fishers.

The concourse is a shrine to baseball heroes of yesteryear and the present. As a calm breeze drifted around the field, I paused to observe striking photographs of Minnie Minoso, Roger Maris, Paul Konerko, Andrew McCutchen and more. All of those players left their respective imprints on this stadium at some point in time.

It was a neat thought to wrap my head around.

Victory Field always evokes strong memories for me. I watched Lake Central defeat Roncalli for the state crown in 2012. I was fortunate enough to photograph Butler and Indiana State during another contest in 2018.

Those moments came to the forefront of my mind as I watched Southridge warm up prior to its 2-0 victory against Hanover Central.

As the upbeat country music blared over the loudspeakers, a hometown feel pulsated throughout the park. This season reaffirmed my prior notion — country music and baseball are a perfect fit.

Baseball dares you to dream. Before the evening’s first game began, young fans positioned themselves in the grassy areas beyond the outfield fence. There was always the hope that a player would launch a ball deep. Those fans could travel back home with special souvenirs.

I made three complete trips around the entire field. Each time, I noticed something new. I thought to myself, “I could spend all day and night observing each nook and cranny of this park.” That might not have sufficed, though. This field is full of surprises, and I appreciate that the most.

I turn 25 next month. I have learned to never take these opportunities for granted. I am grateful to have been a part of this memorable day in Dubois County’s illustrious history.

“Play ball” rings the same in the Circle City.

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