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Official Review by Josh Oakes, Stadium Journey Special Correspondent
The home of the Seattle Mariners' rookie-level Appalachian League affiliate, the Pulaski Mariners, Calfee Park is a beautiful gem nestled away in the Blue Ridge Mountains just outside the charming town of Pulaski, Virginia. Constructed in 1935 as part of the post-depression Works Progress Administration, Calfee Park is the ninth-oldest professional ballpark in the United States, and it hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. The stadium is an ode to baseball parks of old, with a gate that looks like it belongs to a castle, not a ballpark. The setting is a beautiful fusion of old and new. This place takes you back to the glory days of baseball. I do not know how else to describe it. There is a certain feel about Calfee Park that screams baseball, and baseball only.
The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:
Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".
The prices are low, the selection is varied, and the portions are generous. Pulaski is a small town with little to nothing to eat, so you're better off just eating at the park, which is cheaper than eating out anyway. There are two concession stands, both located in the plaza along the first base line. The main stand offers a decent view of the field, along with barbecue ($4.50), hot dogs ($2), and drinks ($2), among other standard fare. You can purchase beer at the main concession stand along the first base line. The second stand amounts to nothing more than a tent behind the first base bleachers and offers no view of the field. The lines are usually a decent size, but nothing to complain about.
Calfee Park offers one of the most unique atmospheres I have ever experienced at any sports event. The ballpark's age is apparent, and it still maintains its old-time feel. It is nestled away comfortably in the Blue Ridge Mountains right outside the Jefferson National Forest. It is an ode to ballparks of old with an old-fashioned concrete grandstand along the third base line and an entrance in the outfield that looks like a castle. The reserved seating area behind home plate has been dubbed the "no flinch zone", and you will hear it from the fans as well as the PA announcer if you flinch when a ball comes hurtling toward your face. The third base grandstand looks like it came straight out of Wrigley, and fans will set up their lawn chairs here or just sit on the concrete steps.
Pulaski offers little in the way of entertainment options. The town is nice to look at and great if you like photography and old buildings, but that is about it. There is nothing to do in these buildings. Pulaski is aesthetically pleasing, but not buzzing with activity. The Jefferson National Forest borders Pulaski and there is also a river and reservoir nearby. There are a few restaurants in Pulaski, along with a Food Lion grocery store. Your best bet for food is to eat at the ballpark. Calfee Park has plenty of food at reasonable prices.
The people here love their team. Young or old, everyone has a program and is following the game. With the exception of one or two fans, everyone is here to watch baseball, which is more than I can say for most ballparks. This place is small, so it does not get very loud. The fans are polite, knowledgeable, and overall do a good job of welcoming fans of the visiting team. I even found a few good-natured Hokie fans there. Calfee Park is family-friendly, and the grandstand along the third base line is designated as an alcohol-free family section.
Maybe it is just because I get lost easily, but I had quite a bit of trouble finding this ballpark. Pulaski is in a fairly remote location, and Calfee Park is located just outside the town. There are a few old, faded street signs with barely visible arrows pointing towards the park. Finally, I got wise and decided to follow the few cars in the town to the park, and I almost drove right past it.
There are two parking lots at Calfee Park, one behind the outfield and one along the first base line. Both parking lots are free and run off a first-come, first-served basis. If for some reason both parking lots are full, there is plenty of parking along the road. Once you find Calfee Park, it is very easy to access. Because of its location, there is minimal traffic to deal with both before and after the game.
I love this park! Calfee Park has a special old-time baseball feel to it not found in many places. The scenery is beautiful, the air is clean, and the food is cheap. Come on, where else can you go to a professional baseball game for $5? One of the gates looks like a stone castle! This place is a must for any baseball lover.
The right field gate looks like a castle (did I mention that already?), the third base grandstand looks like it came from the Wrigley era, the parking is free and easy, the food is cheap, and the fans are friendly.
Member Review by dberger
Calfee Park is the ninth-oldest minor league park in the country and home to the Seattle Mariners' rookie-level Appalachian League team, the Pulaski Mariners. While it's had its share of renovations for today's world, its status as a rookie-league park in a very small town allows it to maintain a lot of its original charm.
The ballpark has a lot going for it, and has been one of my favorite parks I've visited in the last 10 years. Even though it may get marks down on the FANFARE scale for not being entirely updated, it is not to be missed.
Member Review by FuriousShepherd on Jan 24, 2012
I believe that this part was build during the depression as a WPA project. It is a great place to watch a game. When I was there Calfee Park was home to the Rangers farm team. I remember that the food was good and the ticket and food prices couldn't be beat. The crowd was small but that is to be expected for an Apply League team in the middle of nowhere. I also remember that they player Homer Simpson quotes and sound effects almost non-stop. It was actually very funny and creative. I may never get back here but, if I do, I'll stop at Calfee for another game.
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