Valparaiso, Indiana is a small city located about 40 miles Southeast from Chicago and is most notable for Valparaiso University and their Division I basketball team. One other noteworthy person is Jeff Samardzija, who graduated from Valparaiso High School in 2002 and went on to be a national standout in both football and baseball at Notre Dame.
A small park in Valparaiso on Evans Avenue called Tower Park named the areas first all-turf Little League field after hometown hero Jeff Samardzija. The newly completed field is a public field open for 12 hours a day to everyone ages 12 and under. To your average person this may not be such a big deal that it’s a public field. As a native of Northwest Indiana myself, I can attest to the lack of nice playing fields as a young baseball player.
The fields I had to play on were subpar at best, but we did have a place to play. The nice fields were always closed to the public. Having such a nice place would be difficult to maintain had it not been for the decision to install turf over the field. Samardzija was credited with saying, “They’ve done an amazing job” (Chicago Tribune) when discussing the field and its unique turf. I would have killed to have an opportunity to play on a field like this when I was a kid.
Samardzija, who is now a San Francisco Giant, was drafted by the Chicago Cubs on condition that he played exclusively baseball in 2006. He also spent time with the Oakland A’s and Chicago White Sox for a period as well. He’s currently on the 10-day DL but has a career ERA of 4.17 since his debut in 2008.
Northwest Indiana has some other notable MLB players like Sean Manaea who threw a no-hitter for the A’s earlier this year who went to Andrean High School, LaTroy Hawkins, Ron Kittle, and Kenny Lofton to name a few.
Has your hometown had an MLB player? Did you ever have a chance to play against him? Let us know in the comments below!
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