Crutchfield Park – Charlottesville Tom Sox
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.71
Crutchfield Park 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 11 teams up and down Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley. The league is one of the oldest in the country and dates back to 1923. One Valley League team is the Charlottesville Tom Sox, who play at Crutchfield Park, 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.
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, 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 $4 for a kids cup or $6 for a two scoop cup. Sprinkles will cost an extra 50 cents. Both credit cards and cash are accepted, though some of the credit card machines can be quite slow.
Crutchfield Park 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, and the public address announcer does a great job of entertaining fans without being too over-the-top, at one point referring to the “performer” of the recorded version of the national anthem as “John Spotify.”
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 on the edge of the grassy median 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 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
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.
The Tom Sox claim to draw several hundred fans a game, although there is no real way of knowing if this is accurate as the team does not hand out tickets. Looking at the bleachers, there are definitely not this many fans there, but as many fans watch from the grassy areas as well, it is harder to get an accurate picture. Regardless, those fans who do attend range from senior citizens to young families with small children possibly taking in their first baseball game ever. They are knowledgeable about the Tom Sox and cheer them on throughout the game. As the Valley League teams are all within a small area, you will often get many visiting fans as well.
Crutchfield Park 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
Although every Valley League team has affordable tickets, the Tom Sox stand out for offering free admission to all home games thanks to a sponsorship from a local business. Parking is also free. While concessions might be a bit expensive depending on what you get, they’re still less expensive than most professional stadiums and are the only thing you’re going to pay for. A trip to a Tom Sox game is a great value for any fan.
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.
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.