NEW CARLISLE — It's become a tourist site of sorts, the lot next to the house on the corner of Dunn and Bray with a miniature replica of Wrigley Field on it.
"It was a huge family project," Koby Keck said of Migley Field, the home field of the New Carlisle Newts wiffle ball team and the site of the Hometown Cup tournament Final Four. "When we get all the flags up, cars are slowing down. I see so many people stop and come out with their phones to take pictures. If there's a game here, there's a line of cars. The neighborhood's really great about it."
In 2004, the Kecks moved into the house. Initially, Koby and his New Prairie High School friends used the adjoining lot for touch football games. Someone had come up with the Newts nickname, so Koby would paint the logo, which was similar to the design for the former high school, on the field, and write Newts in the end zone. In 2006, he and his dad, with whom he now shares the home, built the wiffle ball field, using leftover scrap fencing from the move-in. Two pieces of plywood served as a marquee and scoreboard.
"I came up with all the ideas, my dad and (late) brother (Kaylor) did all the work," Koby said. "It had a dirt infield back in the day. When we first built it, the neighbor then didn't mow his yard at all, so we didn't want to be hitting that way. We'd lose everything. We used to play at the T-Ball field at the school. It was on the corner, so if you hit a home run, the ball went on the street. It felt like Waveland and Sheffield (near Wrigley Field), so we wanted to hit toward the street, a Waveland Avenue type of thing."
The field quickly became the host of the Wiffle Ball Championship Final Four and was the Newts' home yard for the Old Republic Wiffle Ball League, which started in 2007.
"The Final Four is now a thing as opposed to a championship game," Keck said. "Actually, it was a lot smaller. We decided to move the plate back to make it a little bigger. It got to the point where there were too many home runs. The problem is, ever since we did that, the wind blows in like crazy and it's impossible to hit it out. You get into the summer months, it's supposed to blow out. There's so much about it just like Wrigley Field. You always check the flags."
Kaylor designed the marquee behind home plate, which features the game time, a la Wrigley. He also did the scoreboard, another Wrigley replica, right down to the posting of numbers for the runs, that stands above the outfield on a hill, and the foul poles, which have the Jack Brickhouse home run words "Hey, Hey" printed on them. They keep league standings on the scoreboard poles with flags that were once designed by Keck's grandma, and also have retired number flags. The fence isn't brick, but it does have vines on it.
"Five or six years ago, it looked so much better. It was completely filled in. It looked great," Keck said. "Then we had a really cold winter and a lot of (the vines) died. We couldn't figure out why they didn't come back and we caught deer out there eating them."
During the World Series in 2016, Keck hung bed sheets off the house, which sits above the field, and they watched the Cubs games via a projector.
"I had blue and red lights over the field. I painted the (Cubs) logo on the field," he said. "It was a big party out here."
While the field is such a hub of activity for the league, the tournament and even the town, Keck can foresee a day at some point when Migley Field could change locations.
"It's a lot to keep up with," he said. "My dad's getting older and it's a big house. It's kind of keeping us here, but I don't want to get rid of it."