HUNTINGBURG — The Dubois County Bombers have years of being the flagship local baseball team in the area.
This year’s attendance gives further credence to that.
Through 23 home games this season, ahead of the championship round against Full Count Rhythm on Friday, the team amassed 18,282 fans for an average of 794 fans this campaign.
This average turnout at League Stadium has become a prominent tradition. The team has been around since 2005.
“It’s great, League Stadium to me is magical, especially magical when there are a lot of people in there,” Mary Uebelhor said. “The more people we get in the stadium, the more fun it is. That’s what my goal is.”
Currently, the ownership is made up of 19 partners that stretch from Denver, Chicago and Indianapolis but with the common bond of having a connection to the community.
Since 2013, Mike Uebelhor, an owner, and his wife Mary have kept the Bomber outing experience consistent and fresh.
“It’s definitely a labor of love,” Mike said. “I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t enjoy it. What I really enjoy most I think is during the games to look out from above in the press box to see a line of people waiting to get in. And then secondly, at the end of the game, watching all the kids run the bases. To me, that kind of brings the nostalgia back into the stadium.
“What we try to do is keep it a throwback,” he continued. “So that when people come into the stadium, they forget what stuff went on today and all the hectic stuff they go through to sit back and enjoy the ballgame and forget about the problems of the world.”
The experience of a game at League Stadium is unparalleled in the Midwest. This stadium dates back to 1894.
The most recent movie to be shot in the ballpark was HBO’s “Soul of the Game” in 1995.
However, the flick that made a more significant splash on the movie screen and aided the area was “A League of Their Own”, featuring renowned actor Tom Hanks in the summer of 1991.
Mike said when Columbia Pictures revamped the stadium for the set, it was the only stage of its kind that the contractor didn’t blow up or tear down after filming had concluded.
Mike, who is in his ninth year as part of the ownership group and a fixture at home games in the press box, is a Huntingburg lifer. He graduated from Kentucky Wesleyan College before immediately coming back.
“It took me four years away from that college to appreciate and understand the advantages, the uniqueness of the small town and community,” he said. “And then when Columbia Pictures came in 1992, they left us basically a million dollar asset. I thought, ‘Man, I hate to see (League Stadium) sit there and rot.’ It’s an asset that I think can benefit the whole county. And it does.
“We get great participation, not only from fans, but sponsorship and even ownership throughout the county that bought into it,” he continued. “Bought into the idea that we want to make something unique for the small county and small community. It’s worked out well. I got to give a lot of credit to my wife. My daughter who does most of the sales and 30 people that work for us during the summer project. We are fortunate to have it, just glad it’s here.”
He, Mary and daughter Ashley function as a three-link team that carries out crucial franchise functions.
Mike runs the day-to-day operation and pays the bills, Mary’s duties include organizing the Peaches, promotional nights, social media, gift shop, handling operations and entertainment, Ashely is the sales wizard which includes corporate sales, starting at the turn of the New Year.
Mary’s job at League Stadium begins two hours before the start of home games, on top of working predominantly remotely.
“It has its significant rewards,” Mary said. “I am most interested in doing it from a community aspect. It’s been a fun ride being in the baseball realm. I’ve learned a lot. I didn’t know a thing about it when we first jumped in as far as running a team or doing any of that.”
The Uebelhor’s roles with the squad sprouted up well before they circled the stadium during games. They hosted players for more than a decade.
“We’ve had some unique individuals and players at our house,” Mike said. “Glad to have them. It’s been fun. We hosted Sean Manaea who was here in 2011. He pitches for the Padres.”
Another star-studded former Bomber to grace the Uebelhor digs was Guy Lipscomb, a fifth-round selection Major League Baseball selection this year by the Cleveland Guardians.
Another Uebelhor working behind the scenes with various contributions is Mary’ and Mike’s only son Mick.
He’s had a front row seat to the bevy of Bombers rotating in and out of his household.
“With the exception of the COVID-19 year, that was the first year that he would remember not having them there,” she continued. “He was two when we had our first player.”
Being around the team and shagging balls in pregame has helped his game. He will be a senior pitcher this year at Southridge.
“I always called him a “Stadium Rat,”” Mary said. “He grew up in the stadium, he was always there. We didn’t have a baseball team when he was born. He was born in ’04, we got the team in 2013 is when we came in. We always housed players before we had it, so he does not know a time when we did not have college baseball players living in our house with us in the summer.”
The sum of all these parts is a family dedicating years and resources to create a pristine showcase in Huntingburg that is atypical. The Uebelhors’ passion has served the community.