Gray-Minor Stadium - VMI Keydets
Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey
Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 2.71
Gray-Minor Stadium Anderson Dr Lexington, VA 24550
Year Opened: 2007 Capacity: 1,400
K is for Keydets
The Virginia Military Institute (VMI) is located in Lexington, Virginia, and is one of six Senior Military Academies in the United States. The SMAs represents a sort of middle ground between the service academies and civilian universities. Of the six academies, VMI is the only one that does not also admit civilian students, but all of them share some common traits.
All SMAs have a Corps of Cadets with military standards and training comparable to the service academies, but unlike service academies, students are not required to enlist in the military upon graduation. Nonetheless, many choose to do so and have served the United States in wars around the world. Unlike the service academies, senior military academies are not tied to any one branch, and VMI graduates have gone on to serve in the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Many VMI cadets and graduates also fought in the Confederate military during the American Civil War, and it was referred to as the “West Point of the Confederacy” at the time.
VMI’s athletic teams are known as the Keydets, which is a way of saying “Cadet” with a southern drawl, and the school’s baseball team has called Gray-Minor Stadium home since 2007. The stadium is named after two VMI graduates, Elmon T. Gray, a former Virginia State Senator, and Gil Minor. The stadium replaced Patchin Field on the same spot, which now lends its name to the soccer field next door.
Food & Beverage 2
There is one concession stand at Gray-Minor Stadium, located across the concourse from the press box. The selections are basic and include hot dogs ($4), pretzels ($3.75), nachos ($3.50, extra cheese for $1 more), candy ($3), and soda and water ($3). Credit cards are accepted, as is cash. Keep in mind the stand closes relatively early, so get your food and drink in time. Outside food and beverage may be brought in as well.
Nestled in the scenic Shenandoah Valley, Gray-Minor Stadium offers a view of hillsides and trees beyond the outfield fence. Inside the stadium itself, you will find two levels of seats on the first base side of the field, chairbacks below the concourse, and benches above. Only the lower chairbacks are available on the third-base side. A scoreboard beyond the left-centerfield fence shows a linescore as well as basic graphs and animations, but no video. The Keydets do put some effort into the atmosphere here. Each player has their walkup song and they also play canned organ music (obviously not from a real organ) and sound effects at the appropriate time, such as the Roadrunner “Meep Meep” sound when the Keydets steal a base.
Lexington, Virginia has been given the rather cynical and ironic nickname Lex Vegas. Unlike its Nevada counterpart, Lexington is a small, quaint, conservative college town in Virginia’s scenic Shenandoah Valley. Even more unlike the real Vegas, the entertainment scene here is almost non-existent. There are many ways to take in the natural beauty of the Valley in and around Lexington, plus some historic sites on and around the Institute, but that’s about it.
The Keydets typically draw a few hundred fans a game, although this can vary widely depending on the weather and what else is going on. The fans seem knowledgeable about the team as well as life on the VMI post in general. There is a small but extremely passionate and vocal group of student cadets who will typically sit to the right of the press box on the third-base side. They are notorious for heckling opposing players and umpires. If there were more an about a dozen of them this could be an extremely hostile atmosphere for opposing teams to play, but despite their small size, they still manage to contribute greatly.
To get to VMI, you will need to take Interstate 64 to Exit 55. Fans coming from the north or south will need to first take Interstate 81 to Exit 191 for I-64 – Exit 55 is the next once you get on. From there, it is a short drive to the Institute.
Once on campus, you will need to park in the lot outside Paulette Hall, then walk down a pathway and up a flight of steps to reach the concourse. There is ample space to move around once you get up there. Restrooms are located to the right of the concession stand and are of a more than ample size for the crowds.
Return on Investment 5
Admission to a Keydets baseball game is free. Concessions are affordable and parking is free. The only downside is you’re probably going to have to spend a bit on gas to get here. With a good atmosphere in a scenic setting, a trip to Keydets baseball is an excellent value.
One bonus star for the extreme energy brought by the cadets cheering on their team, even if there are only a few of them.
There are plaques on the back of the press box honoring the stadium’s namesakes, Elmon T. Gray and Gil Minor.
Although the Virginia Military Institute is far from the first school that comes to mind when you think of college sports in Virginia, the Spirit of VMI is alive and well at Gray-Minor Stadium. Taking in a baseball game in a scenic setting on a historic campus is well worth it for any visitors to the area.