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  • Writer's pictureMarc Viquez

Salem Kiwanis Field - American Legion Post 3



Photos by Marc Viquez, Stadium Journey

Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71

Salem Kiwanis Field

731 Indiana St

Salem, VA 24153


Year Opened: 1932 Capacity: 5,000

 

An Old Classic in Salem, Virginia

When I was driving to Memorial Stadium in Salem, Virginia, I stumbled upon another ballpark. I had thought I found the correct baseball stadium but quickly found out that I was someplace else. I was about a half mile from my intended destination, but this older venue caught my eye. It had some character and quirky dimensions and looked like it had been here for quite some time, the ballpark was Salem Kiwanis Stadium.


Originally known as Salem Memorial Ballpark, the ballpark debuted in 1932 and offers a seating capacity of 5,000. It served home to numerous minor league franchises that included the Salem Friends, Rebels, Pirates, Redbirds, Buccaneers, and the Avalanche. The stadium’s current name was changed in 1995 since the new stadium’s site was previously owned by the Kiwanis Club; the old park took the Kiwanis name shortly after Memorial Stadium debuted.


The University of Roanoke, Salem High School, Andrew Lewis Middle School, USSSA Events, American Legion Post 3 and the Roanoke Rails (Carolina-Virginia Collegiate League) all utilize the 87-year-old stadium for games and practice. A full-time staff does nothing but upkeep the stadium that is home to 200-300 games between January and November. The facility also has time to host a variety of non-baseball events that include music, food, and beer festivals.


Perhaps the stadium’s darkest moment occurred on August 22, 1974, when Pittsburgh Pirates top prospect Alfredo Edmead was fatally killed after diving for a pop fly in right field and colliding with his second baseman in a game against the Rocky Mount Phillies. The game was stopped for 20 minutes and a crowd of 937 on hand were unaware of the severity of the incident. Edmead would be pronounced dead at the hospital and the following year a plaque was erected at the stadium in his memory that is now located at Salem Memorial Stadium up the road.


The influx of baseball gives the old-time ballpark much needed service and perhaps provides a nice alternative to the minor league ballpark just less than a mile up the road. However, unlike many other older venues that meet the wrecking ball after a modern facility is built, Kiwanis Stadium kept on being home to baseball in the Roanoke Valley.


Food & Beverage 3

The ballpark offers a small concession stand that offers more than enough items to keep you full during a ball game. They include hot dogs, chili dogs, barbecue sandwiches with slaw, nachos, super nachos (chili, onions, and jalapenos), hamburgers, popcorn, peanuts, and pretzels (salted and unslated). A hot dog is the cheapest item at $2.50 and the super nachoss will cost $5. Pepsi products are available and also include Dr. Pepper, Root Beer, and Orange Crush sodas for $2 to $3 each. If you want something do dessert the concession stand offers ice cream sandwiches, nutty buddy, freeze pop, and bomb pop for $1 each.


Atmosphere 3

There is a sense of history at the ballpark that includes old, wooden seats with chipped paint that creak when you pull them down, a covered grandstand that dominates the grandstand, and quite a large amount of foul territory behind home plate. The area behind home plate also includes light towers that are in play and are padded for protection.


The foul territory is due mostly to the design of the grandstand that does not feature a traditional curve and is embedded into a hill. This is partially due to the stadium being home to high school football, so less of a curve is beneficial for the gridiron, but it does make an impression to first-time visitors during the summer months. The entire grandstand is spread almost flat against the grassy hill behind it.


The seating underneath the grandstand appears to be at least 60 to 70-years-old and are colored blue and scarlet red. There is bleacher seating down each baseline that is not covered by the roof of the grandstand. A simple scoreboard exists in left field and the views of the Allegheny and Blue Ridge Mountains dominate the scenery in the distance.


Neighborhood 3

The home of the Salem Red Sox, Memorial Ballpark, is located just up the road less than a mile away from Salem Stadium, if scheduling permits, one can enjoy a doubleheader during a visit to the city. The town of Salem does offer enough activities to enjoy during an overnight stay or if you have a few days on your journey.

There are plenty of attractions that include the Salem Historical Museum, Salem Market, and Longwood Park. The Salem Fair takes place the first week of July and includes fireworks during Independence Day. Dixie Caverns allows visitors to explore underneath the earth and a quick ride to nearby Roanoke features the Pinball Museum and Valley Greenways.


Restaurant options in Salem include Blue Apron, Mac and Bob’s, Cafe Xpress, Macado’s, Local Roots, and Zorbas. If you are a craft brew enthusiast, they have you covered with Parkway, Olde Salem, and Big Lick Brewing Company.


Salem offers a majority of major and regional hotel chains for your lodging pleasure. A majority of convenient locations are off of I-81 that runs north and south of the Roanoke Valley.


Fans 2

American Legion games attract a loyal audience of family members, friends, coaches and peers from school. Despite the massive size of the stadium, the atmosphere is up close and personal. You could hear every banter, the ping of the ball off the bat, and the ball in the leather of the glove. The cheering from the fans provides a nice backdrop to all of this and one needs to be reminded to sit back and relax–similar to taking in a game at Mirmow Field in Orangeburg, South Carolina.


Access 3

The parking lot is located behind the left field corner of the stadium and it does require somewhat of a steep climb to the main entrance of the stadium–it was built in a hill. There is a ramp that leads patrons to the main concourse. Once inside, there is plenty of room to move around and find the right spot for the game.

Return on Investment 3

The price of a ticket for legion baseball is $8 a person, that price could differ for other events at the stadium. Not a terrible price, but the cost of a Salem Red Sox game up the street is $8 for general admission. The parking is free and concession prices are inexpensive. The investment is enjoying a baseball game at an old cranky ballpark that has a lot of life left in it.


Extras 2

Salem Kiwanis Stadium earns a point for its views of the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains–a beautiful backdrop in any stadium.


The ballpark receives a second point for its odd dimensions that includes being built into a hill and offering old, wooden seats that could probably share quite a bit of history if they had the ability to talk.


Final Thoughts

I discovered Kiwanis Stadium by accident and its great to know that the place is still standing offering many days of baseball during both the spring and season. Its location near Memorial Stadium also makes it viable for a quick trip inside for a game. A ballpark of its caliber is definitely past its prime for the professional ranks, but it’s nice to know that if you ever want to step back in time, you have the ability in Salem, Virginia.

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