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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Casey Field - Covington Lumberjacks


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Casey Field West Oak Street Covington, VA 24426


Year Opened: 1952

Capacity: 2,000

 

VBL Baseball in the Alleghany Highlands

With 12 teams nestled up and down Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley, the Valley Baseball League is one of the oldest collegiate summer wood-bat leagues in America. The Covington Lumberjacks play their home games at Casey Field, a former Appalachian League venue that hosted the Covington Red Sox in 1966 and the Covington Astros from 1967 to 1975.

Today, Casey Field is also a football stadium used by Alleghany High School. It has a strange layout - centerfield is very short to accommodate the football bleachers, and there is a Pesky Pole situation in left field. The foul pole is extremely shallow, then juts out almost completely straight, to accommodate a construction area for a new field house for the high school.

Food & Beverage 3

Concessions are sold out of a window down the first baseline by the entrance. Options for meals include hot dogs, nachos, barbecue sandwiches (in this part of the country, invariably pulled pork), cheeseburgers, and pizza slices which are better than you'd expect for this part of the country. Snacks include peanuts, candy, popcorn, and french fries. Bottled water and soda are available to drink. Icees are also sold out of a truck near the entrance.

Even though this is a high school stadium, beer is available for sale out of a tent behind home plate. Bottled water can also be purchased at this tent, for fans who don't want to wait in a long line just to get water on a hot night.

Prices are reasonable for the most part. The Icees, which are sold by an outside vendor, cost $5 but nothing else, even the beer, is more than $3.50.

Atmosphere 3

There are several sets of bleachers near home plate at Casey Field, but no aisle to climb up them, which makes getting around challenging. There is also a very large set of bleachers in centerfield which is the sideline seating for football games and is mostly unused for baseball, although a few fans do sit here.

Many fans also choose to bring their own chairs and sit at the bottom of the bleachers or by an opening in the fence near the concession stand. Other than the centerfield bleachers and the aforementioned gap, all seats are behind a metal fence. It is not as thick as in some other places, but is more intrusive than netting.

This is a pretty basic gameday experience. Music is played during breaks in the action, but not particularly loudly. The PA announcer is involved and will often welcome local guests, but is not over the top. There are few if any on-field contests, so a Lumberjacks game is a pretty simple experience.

Neighborhood 3

The City of Covington is located in Southwest Virginia in the Alleghany Highlands, but not quite in the Allegheny Mountains (yes, the spelling is different and it's all quite confusing.) This is a very scenic area of the state with gorgeous mountain views, hiking trails, lakes, and more. There is not much to do in Covington beyond a few chain restaurants, including a KFC right next to the ballpark. Clifton Forge is about ten miles away and has more options. It also has a major railroad history, which may be of interest to railfans.

Fans 4

The Covington Lumberjacks draw a few hundred fans for a typical home game. This may not seem like much, but the population of Covington is only about 5,000 people, plus another 15,000 in surrounding Alleghany County. Lumberjacks games are truly a community affair, and most of the fans seem to know each other, although they are welcoming of newcomers.

During player introductions and big moments, the fans will ring cowbells to show their support for their team. They wear Lumberjacks gear and are generally a passionate crowd.


Access 2

Covington is located just off I-64 via Exit 14. If coming from the west, you will probably have to cross over the mountains to get here. If coming from the east, the drive will still be hilly but not fully mountainous. Once you reach the ballpark, there is a paved lot down the right field line and a gravel one beyond the left field fence. Street parking is also available once these fill up, but be warned some of it is within foul ball territory.

The big problem with access here is the bleachers. There are no aisles to climb, making getting up them extremely difficult. You will have to step over rows of seating and work your way around fans who are aleady there to get up or down. This brings the rating down significantly and is why so many fans bring their own seats.

Restrooms are available next to the concession stand and are a generally sufficient size, although you may have to wait a couple minutes. They also get extremely warm on hot days.

Return on Investment 5

Admission to all Lumberjacks games is free. Most Valley League teams charge a few dollars, which isn't much money, but free is better. Concessions are extremely affordable as well. As a result, a Covington Lumberjacks game is a fantastic value.

Extras 3

Look for the free roster cards by the concession stand.

The gorgeous view of the surrounding mountains is worthy of a bonus star here - many of the Valley League venues have great views and Covington is no exception.

A third and final bonus star for the 50-50 raffle. The Lumberjacks operate as a non-profit, and this gives fans a chance to support the team and potentially win a cash prize.

Final Thoughts

Although Covington may not have the fanciest stadium in the Valley League, it has a strong and loyal fan base. It's hard to argue with watching free baseball in a scenic environment on a warm summer night, and a Lumberjacks game allows you to do all of these things. Baseball fans in the Alleghany Highlands will definitely want to make the trip here.

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