Photos by Lloyd Brown, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Calfee Park 700 South Washington Ave Pulaski, VA 24301
Year Opened: 1935 Capacity: 2,500
Along the Appalachian League Trail: Pulaski
Calfee Park in Pulaski, Virginia is one of two Appalachian League parks that was built by the WPA after the Great Depression. It opened in 1935 and It is on the National and State Historic Landmarks Registry.To look at it today you would never be able to guess its age. It has gone through numerous renovations over the years, but still retains the rock wall entrance gate and the original canopy covering the third base grandstands from the original construction.
Food & Beverage 4
The food service area and the menu of foods offered have both been expanded in recent years. There are several windows at the concession stand, so you should not expect a lengthy wait in line. Calfee’s menu is sure to offer a food item to fit almost any taste. A sampling of foods includes hamburgers, chili dogs, BBQ w/slaw, pizza, chicken sandwiches, nachos, taco bowls, pretzels, popcorn, and chips.
The beverage selection includes bottled water, Pepsi brand sodas, Gatorade, and Slushies. Adult beverages include canned beer, draft beer (including Blue Moon, Yuengling, and Coors Light) as well as several craft beers. A separate Yankee Snack Shack offers soft serve ice cream (helmet- $5, cup or cone at $4) as well as caramel corn, cotton candy, peanuts, and candy.
When you are playing in a park as old as Calfee Park, there is a lot of history and tradition attached to it. Teams associated with Pulaski have won five Appalachian League titles and ten division championships.
The stadium has gone through numerous renovations to keep the facility in good repair and to keep up with the latest amenities fans have come to expect. The most recent upgrades occurred in 1999 and 2015 when new ownership took over and began an affiliation with the New York Yankees. The 2015 renovations cost more than $3 million and have brought Calfee Park into the 21st century.
All these upgrades were designed to improve the fan experience. Fans no longer must wait in long lines, as the concession areas have been greatly expanded. A souvenir shop now offers team merchandise featuring the iconic pinstripes of the Yankee organization.
The park now has a stunning 31 suites for season ticket holders. Suites in Pulaski have railed-in areas along the front of the stands outfitted with tables and chairs and personal food service. There are two elevated VIP towers on either side of the press box behind home plate for large groups. A state-of-the-art 35’ X 22’ Jumbotron now keeps the crowd updated on game stats and replays.
To handle the increase in demand for tickets following these renovations, the team has added additional parking lots and gates to handle the crowds. These upgrades have changed the atmosphere of Calfee Park from a struggling Class A Rookie facility to the level of a very nice AAA park. This will assure this historic park’s use well into the future.
Calfee Park is in a residential section of Pulaski. You will most likely see residents on their front porches watching the game. Pulaski is a small town of just over 9,000 residents.
Two places of interest you might want to check out while in Pulaski are the Ratcliffe Transportation Museum and the Pulaski Theatre. Two restaurants the locals recommend are Al’s on First and The Blue Ridge Fudge Lady. Lodging in town is limited to one hotel, but it comes highly rated. The Jackson Park Inn is located adjacent to the city’s main park. A second lodging choice is the Holiday Inn Express in nearby Dublin, Virginia.
New ownership has greatly increased attendance at Yankees games. Many of the new fans travel down from Roanoke to enjoy the enhanced stadium. The team utilizes a cheer team as well as the Jumbotron very effectively in getting the crowd into the game. There are games, T-shirt throws, and trivia contests virtually every inning with prizes awarded. The Yankees do a great deal of outreach to youth baseball teams in the small towns surrounding Pulaski.
The stadium management has been ingenious in creating a team mascot to represent the team on the field and in the community. Rather than refocus every time the stadium changes a team affiliation, they wisely came up with a mascot based on the Calfee Stadium brand. The fans are now entertained by Calf-E, a young cow in bib jeans who loves baseball. This goes over very well in a rural area of Virginia and he is beloved by all ages.
Pulaski is the northernmost outpost in the Appalachian League, as it is more than 50 miles from its nearest competitor. It is located 29 miles south of Roanoke off I-81 in the mountains of western Virginia. Depending on the direction you are coming from on I-81 you will go up and over a mountain to get to the park. From I-81 Northbound: Take Exit 89B to the Pulaski exit (Highway 11).
Follow Rte. 11 five miles across Draper Mountain, then take the second right onto South Washington Avenue. The park entrance will be on your left. From I-81 Southbound: Take Exit 94 to merge onto VA 99 towards downtown Pulaski. Continue 3.5 miles into downtown Pulaski. Turn left at North Washington Avenue and continue for a mile. Turn left on Pierce Avenue to enter the park.
The Pulaski Yankees have expanded parking for Calfee Park in the last few years. Some of this parking is in satellite lots a short walk from the stadium. Free shuttles will ferry fans from these lots to the park. Once inside the stadium access is excellent via wide concourses and aisles. Most of the seating in the park has been upgraded in recent years and is much more comfortable than in the past.
Return on Investment 4
A night at a Pulaski Yankee game will not break the bank like a trip to Yankee Stadium. Calfee Park offers a wide variety of price levels for tickets. The VIP Towers are available to groups for rental on a game-by-game basis. Club seating includes the seats directly behind home plate and is priced at $11, seats between the club area and the dugouts go for $9. General admission seating is all seating beyond the dugouts and above the field-level suites and is priced at $6. Concessions are very reasonably priced, and parking is free.
Calfee Park has been associated with eight different MLB organizations since 1935. During the period the organization was affiliated with the Atlanta Braves, the nucleus of the roster that won 14 straight titles played at Pulaski. These core players included Steve Avery, Javy Lopez, David Justice, Mark Wohlers, and Mike Stanton.
New ownership has breathed new life into the Pulaski organization. The improvements made in the stadium have not taken away from its historic character. It has added some of the amenities baseball fans have come to expect in any stadium nowadays. The Yankees are a team built on tradition and Calfee Park fits in very well within this proud heritage.