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Hooker Field

Martinsville, VA

Home of the Martinsville Mustangs

2.9

N/A

Hooker Field (map it)
450 Commonwealth Blvd E
Martinsville, VA 24112


Martinsville Mustangs website

Hooker Field website

Year Opened: 1988

Capacity: 3,200

There are no tickets available at this time.

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Give Me Liberty or Give Me Baseball

The city of Martinsville, Virginia, has a long and storied history. The county in which it resides drew its name from one of America’s most well-known citizens, Patrick Henry. Affiliated baseball did not enjoy much of the same history, however, as it enjoyed less than a 20-year run in this southside Virginia town.

Former MLB catchers Randy and Todd Hundley were born here, as was All-Star Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker. Future stars Mike Lieberthal, Ryan Madson, Scott Rolen, and Jimmy Rollins (among others) spent summers playing for the short-season Martinsville Phillies. The Martinsville Astros existed for five seasons, only to be replaced by the collegiate wood-bat Martinsville Mustangs of the Coastal Plain League for the 2005 season.

2.9

What is FANFARE?

The FANFARE scale is our metric device for rating each stadium experience. It covers the following:

  • Food & Beverage
  • Atmosphere
  • Neighborhood
  • Fans
  • Access
  • Return on Investment
  • Extras

Each area is rated from 0 to 5 stars with 5 being the best. The overall composite score is the "FANFARE Score".

Food & Beverage    3

The food choices at Hooker Field (named after a local furniture company) were pretty straightforward. Fans can choose from hot dogs ($2), pizza ($2), hamburgers ($2.75), cheeseburgers ($3), Chick-fil-A sandwiches ($3.50, and it was repeatedly mentioned that this was the first time they had been available at the park all season), peanuts ($2), nachos ($2), popcorn and chips (both $1), and other small assorted items. There was also a sno-cone stand on the concourse that served a few frozen treats for $2-$3 each.

There is a grill next to the concession area on which the burgers are apparently cooked. The patience of some hungry fans was also rewarded late in the game when I visited, as plain hamburgers and pizza slices were served for $1 each while they lasted.

Atmosphere    3

Hooker Field is a relatively pedestrian environment. It is a city-owned park, and that feeling translates throughout the facility. The park was opened in 1988, and it feels older. There is a strange mixture of seats, with chairback bleachers behind the plate, folding chairs as the "reserved" seating off the concourse, and standard bleachers making up the general admission seats down each line. The third base bleachers were set in concrete, which made them rather sturdy. There is a chain-link fence surrounding the entire seating area, giving the sense of watching the game from a jail cell.

There is a public address announcer with a very "morning radio" voice, though he seemed to stop using it to announce batters at times through the game. The between-innings music was loaded with static for most of the game, and a lot of the songs were repeated. Many of the requisite sound effects (breaking glass on a foul ball, for instance) were also featured, some a lot more than desired.

There were a few between-innings promotions, including a guy in a Taco Bell sauce packet costume leading a salsa dancing contest. In my many years of attending baseball games in different locales, this was the first-ever dancing Taco Bell sauce packet to which I had been exposed. Martinsville also had a horse mascot named Marty, who seemed rather popular with the fans despite losing the mascot race, as they all seem to do.

One other note: The homestanding Mustangs were wearing jerseys with "Oilers" across the front on the night I attended. There was no explanation why this was taking place, but with the various sight line problems, it may not have been evident to many fans. There appears to have been a summer team in Martinsville's past named the Oilers, but the connection was never explained.

Neighborhood    2

Martinsville is a small town of less than 15,000 residents, and with the park in a mixed-use district (residential on one side, business on the other), there is virtually nothing around the park itself. Martinsville has a number of chain restaurants (Texas Steakhouse seemed to be a quite popular option as I passed by), with Jerry's Pizza, Elizabeth's Pizza, and Najjar's Pizza Haven all within a short drive in neighboring Collinsville.

The world-famous Martinsville Speedway is also within a short 15 minute drive in Ridgeway, Virginia, just north of the North Carolina state line.

Fans    2

The crowd in Martinsville was small and late-arriving. They did not bring their voice with them, though, as there was virtually no crowd response all night. The aforementioned public address announcer essentially sang "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" by himself, and even when Martinsville mounted a rally, most of the attendees seemed disinterested. A few fans were the exception. The beer garden seemed somewhat popular among the fans, though.

There were also a number of kids in attendance, and instead of sitting and watching the game, most of them seemed interested in playing with baseballs in an area that was marked as an area that was not for play and required adult supervision. As such, they threw numerous baseballs onto the field of play, causing players and personnel to retrieve the balls and throw them back, much to their annoyance. Martinsville's management needs to decide whether they are going to enforce the existing signage and keep kids out of this area (and baseballs off the field), or just let the kids play and take down the signs. The view of the field is already somewhat blocked by the fence and the light pole keeping the third base bleachers from seeing some of the scoreboard, and the playing kids did not help matters.

Access    4

Parking is free at Hooker Field with enough spaces to effectively serve even the biggest crowd the Mustangs might draw. The walk to the field from the parking areas is relatively short, as there are a number of spaces on the park grounds within a few steps, with more across Commonwealth Boulevard and some street parking surrounding the field.

There are bathroom facilities down each base line, and they were clearly marked. There were no major bathroom upgrades to be found, but if function is what you desire from facilities, these will certainly serve your needs.

Return on Investment    4

In today's age, there is often a benefit to ordering tickets online before attending a sporting event. Martinsville offers very little benefit in doing so, as there is an additional $1 fee for each ticket ordered online. This brings the $4 online price of a general admission ticket to $5, which is the exact same price charged at the gate. There is very little danger of Martinsville selling out this park, as there are plenty of seats available, so just buy your tickets at the gate if your travels lead you here. The price of a senior ticket appeared to be a dollar cheaper online, however, so if you have a senior as part of your group, this may be a consideration.

This aside, the most expensive seat in the house is $7, making it as good of a deal as its Coastal Plain League counterparts. Add in concessions and you will still likely get out of the evening cheaper than attending a movie or doing something similar. The chance of seeing a future professional before he hits it big is also a fun perk.

Extras    2

As previously mentioned, parking is free and close at Hooker Field. The walk from your seat to your car is often under a minute, which is nice. The benefit of the proximity of the parking can also be a drawback, however, as several foul balls sailed into the parking lot and Commonwealth Boulevard, which runs behind the plate. Park close, but choose wisely.

There is also a private party "deck" (in actuality, more of a picnic area) on the first base side, which seems to be a nice option for any local businesses, youth teams or other groups wanting to have a nice evening at the ballpark.

Final Thoughts

Hooker Field is much like the city in which it resides. It is a very laid-back atmosphere where a lot of people seemed to recognize each other, stopping to say hello and check on each other's families. There are few frills in the park, just as there are few frills in Martinsville. This should not be seen as a negative; rather, it is a trip to a somewhat different experience. To compare it to other towns or stadiums seems to do it a disservice. If you know what to expect before arriving, you just might find this to be a nice ballpark experience.

Hooker Field

As usual,your reviews are right on target.The history of the area and facility,as well as the names of major league players who came through there was very informative.The positives and negatives of the experience were very fair,and very accurate.It would be helpful for the fans there to become more involved,and the management of the team to bring in better players to win and or compete in every contest.My only suggestion would be to spend some time educating the fan who does not know,what wood bat baseball is all about,and the benefits of players playing in this venue.Again,great review,and more of your usual professionalism.

by jerry | Jun 13, 2012 04:25 PM

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