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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

CHO Airport Field – Charlottesville Tom Sox


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 4.00

CHO Airport Field 1400 Melbourne Road Charlottesville, VA 22901

Charlottesville Tom Sox website

Year Opened: 2015 Capacity: 3.256

 

Tom’s Sox in Charlottesville

The Valley Baseball League is a collegiate summer baseball league with 12 teams up and down Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley. The league is one of the oldest in the country and dates back to at least 1923. Baseball had been played in the Valley for decades before then, but at that point in history it is fuzzy what constitutes a distinct league and several different dates of founding are claimed by different sources.

One Valley League team is the Charlottesville Tom Sox, who play at CHO Airport Field, located on the campus of Charlottesville High School. The Tom Sox began playing here in 2015, and financed some improvements to the field, in exchange for being allowed to use it over the summer when high school is not in session. The “Tom” in the team name is taken from Thomas Jefferson, who lived in the Charlottesville area and built the University of Virginia, which is located here.

Despite playing in the Valley League, Charlottesville is not actually in the Shenandoah Valley, as it is on the other side of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Food & Beverage 3

There is one concession stand located behind home plate, which sells a basic menu. Hot dogs are $2.50, which is a good deal, but burgers will cost $5.50 for a single or $8 for a double, plus an additional dollar for bacon, which is a bit pricey for this level. Nachos cost $3.50, as do fries, which is not super expensive, but you would not expect a basket of fries to cost more than a hot dog. Even the Gatorade and soda, at $3 and $3.50 respectively, cost more than the hot dog. Peanuts are $2.50, water is $1.50, and candy is $1.75. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is also available, for $6 for a two scoop cup. Sprinkles in Tom Sox colors can be added to ice cream for free. Both credit cards and cash are accepted.

Atmosphere 4

CHO Airport Field has a pretty basic layout, with a few sets of bleachers located behind home plate and to either side. A scoreboard in left-centerfield shows the linescore, count, and runs, but no other information, not even the hits and errors for each team. Despite this, the team manages to put on a good show here at Tom Sox games. There are plenty of between-innings contests where kids get to go onto the field, including the shoe race, where kids have to race to retrieve their own shoes, put them on, and run back.

In addition to the bleachers, there are plenty of grassy areas surrounding the field where fans like to set up chairs and watch the game. Pretty much the entire third baseline beyond the bleachers is open grass, and there is plenty of space to watch from the top of a hill beyond the outfield fence as well. Some fans even set up chairs in the giant grass patch in the middle of the traffic circle in the parking lot and watch from there. There is less space available on the first base side, which abuts some train tracks, but fans sitting down the third-base line can watch freight and Amtrak trains pass throughout the game through a gap in the trees.

The Tom Sox have a mascot, a prairie dog named Prairiewether Lewis, who can be seen roaming the stands and interacting with fans throughout the game.

Prairiewether Lewis, Photo by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Neighborhood 4

Charlottesville is a beautiful college town known mostly for the University of Virginia. Once you head into town, you will find many options to choose from. Boylan Heights is a popular bar just off the UVA campus and serves up good food as well. It is just one of many places to eat, drink, or have fun along University Avenue ranging from bagel bakeries to bars to sushi restaurants. History buffs may also want to check out Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. Keep in mind that many of the places near the University may offer limited hours during the summer when the Tom Sox play, as the UVA students are not on campus.

Fans 5

The Tom Sox draw large crowds to every game, consistently finishing towards the top of the Valley League in attendance. Fans pack all three sets of bleachers in addition to lining the other areas surrounding the field in their own chairs. The fan base here skews younger than at most other Valley League venues, with small children showing up in droves with their parents to cheer on the Tom Sox. Fans are passionate, loud, and proud of their team. Although the Valley League in general is known for its loyal fans, the fan base here is larger than what you'd see at most other places.

Access 4

CHO Airport Field and Charlottesville High School are located right off US 250 and are easily accessible via US 29 from the north and south. There are clear signs from 250 directing you to Charlottesville High School, and once you get there the stadium will be clearly visible. There is plenty of parking available for free in the lot near the stadium, and further down on the other side of the high school if that lot fills up. Keep in mind the spaces closest to the field are within foul ball territory, so park at your own risk if you choose to park there.

Return on Investment 5

Admission to Tom Sox games is $5 for one individual or $10 for a carload, no matter how many people are in your vehicle. Concessions range from decently priced to very affordable depending on what you are getting. As such, a Tom Sox game is a great deal regardless, and can be an even better deal if going in a large group and all traveling in one car. Plan accordingly.

Extras 3

There is a merchandise tent down the third baseline where fans can buy Tom Sox t-shirts and caps.

Free roster sheets are also available.

A third and final star for all the unique vantage points where fans can watch the game from.

Final Thoughts

The Valley Baseball League is a hidden gem for summer baseball in Virginia. Although fans in the Valley are certainly in on it, many fans from other parts of the state have never heard of the league and are missing out. While a college town like Charlottesville is not the most attractive destination in the summer, except for people checking out nearby Monticello, for those who find themselves in town, a Tom Sox game can be a great way to spend a beautiful summer evening taking in a baseball game.

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