night for the Indianapolis Indians' baseball season at Victory Field was
beautiful, if a bit chilly. Evening sunlight electrified the sleek blue skin on
the new Marriot hotel, a looming presence that, juxtaposed with the green,
on-field sounds of slapping leather and batted balls, made the city seem almost
like an act of nature.
theory, we go to the ballpark in order to see which team will win a given day's
game. But you don't have to be there long to figure out that rooting for the
home team is just part of what constitutes the ballpark experience, especially
in the minor leagues, where the players come and go so frequently you really do
a need a scorecard to tell who's who.
may not be why we go to a ballgame, but it's a big part of the deal. There's a
kind of alchemical perfume that, for some of us, is created when yellow
mustard, beer and warm concrete are blended. Suddenly you just have to get
yourself a hot dog.
it's the fresh air. And maybe, I'm sorry to say, it's because so many of the
games are, frankly, kind of boring. In any event, the people who run ballparks
have come to provide us with an ever-widening array of stuff to eat. Victory
Field is no exception.
a tip: When you arrive at the park, make a point of walking the length of the
concourse. This is easy to do at Victory, where the walkway is broad and
relatively uncrowded. You'll be amazed at all the eats to choose from.
find the staples for sale at walk-up counters managed by Aramark, labeled
"Ballpark Favorites," like a Jumbo Dog ($3.50), Popcorn ($3.75) and Cracker
Jack ($3.25). But walk a little further and you'll be at the "Backstop Grille,"
where you can choose a Rowdie Rib Sandwich ($4.50), a Cheeseburger ($3.25) or
that Hoosier standby, the Breaded Tenderloin ($5.00). At the "Bullpen
Pizzeria," you can get a slice of cheese, sausage or pepperoni ($3.75) or an
Italian Sausage Sub ($5.00). And the Corona Light Cantina purveys Steak and
Chicken Burritos ($6.25), Quesadillas ($6.00) a Burrito Bowl ($6.25) and a
better grade of Nachos than at the "Ballpark Favorites" counter, albeit for two
dollars more ($6.25).
is just scratching the surface. There are independently-run, freestanding
carts, where you can get deli-style sandwiches neatly packed in plastic
containers, imported and even craft-style local beers and, my favorite,
"Diamond Dogs," which offers the best dogs in the house, including Bratwurst
($4.50), Italian Sausage ($4.50) and a Footlong Dog ($6.25).
let me be clear: This is not San Diego, you'll find no sushi at Victory Field.
The food service here knows that a large part of their trade will be pre-obese
little Hoosiers and so the target palate seems to lie somewhere between those
pizza joints that cater to sugar-buzzed kids and airport food.
Breaded Tenderloin fit in the palm of my hand and consisted of a dismayingly
rubbery patty covered with a rather granular "breading." The sauce adorning the
cheese version of pizza was wan. And a conversation overhead at the "Corona
Light Cantina" said it all: Asked how the "hot" sauce differed from the mild, a
refreshingly honest counter person replied, "It's mild, too."
long line at "Diamond Dogs" was a good omen. Sure, the dogs are a bit pricier,
but they're skin-splittingly seared and served on poppy seed buns. Better
still, they fry up onions and peppers for the Italian Sausage on the griddle
and, when I asked, they obligingly slathered those on my Brat. Add an order of
Fries ($3.75) – admirably free of grease – from the "Backstop
Grille," plus a bottle of Upland or Bells Oberon ($5.50 ea.) from the Guinness
beer stand and you'll be ready to root, root, root for the Indians, whoever
they happen to be.
W. Maryland St.