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  • Writer's pictureGregory Koch

Hooker Field – Martinsville Mustangs


Photos by Gregory Koch, Stadium Journey


Stadium Info FANFARE Score: 3.29

Hooker Field 450 Commonwealth Blvd E. Martinsville, VA 24112



Year Opened: 1988 Capacity: 3,200

 

The Stadium, Not The Speedway

Baseball has a long and storied history in the city of Martinsville, Virginia. The city hosted the Martinsville Manufacturers of the Bi-State League from 1934-1941 and then the Martinsville A’s from 1945-1949. However, it would not be until 1988 when baseball returned to the city, with the Martinsville Phillies of the Appalachian League moving to the newly opened English Field, as it was known at the time. In 1999, the club became an Astros affiliate and changed its name accordingly, and the franchise stayed until 2003.

Baseball was once again absent in 2004, but in 2005, the Martinsville Mustangs of the Coastal Plain League came to town. English Field later would change its name to Hooker Field in reference to a local furniture company. The Mustangs continue to play collegiate summer wood bat ball at Hooker Field today.


Food & Beverage 3

There are several concession options at Hooker Field. The main stand behind home plate offers a number of options including hamburgers and cheeseburgers, hot dogs (including the option to get one with chili), chips, and drinks. Prices are reasonable with nothing costing more than around $5. Down the third baseline you will find a smaller stand up a small wooden staircase that looks like it is falling apart. This stand sells drinks, popcorn, hot pretzels, and Sno-cones, with the latter coming in a souvenir helmet. Further down the third baseline is a beer stand, unusual for the collegiate summer level, as well as a beer garden area for those of age. Although stands do take credit cards, the workers have to enter the numbers manually so it will generally be quicker to pay cash. Keep in mind the concession stand may shut down around the seventh inning so plan accordingly.

Atmosphere 4

Despite being less than 35 years old, Hooker Field is already showing its age. There are a small number of chairbacks behind home plate reserved for season tickets and multi-game plan holders. For fans attending only a single game, there are bleachers without backs further down both lines. All seats offer an excellent view of the field. There is also a scoreboard in left-center field which shows the linescore and other basic information.

Despite the rather run-down setting, the team does a lot to keep fans engaged with between innings contests and team staff roving the stands keeping fans engaged throughout the ballgame. As the team is called the Mustangs, horse sounds will often be played over the PA system. Although the team apparently has a costumed mustang mascot, he was not present when we visited.

Neighborhood 2

Martinsville is a small city located in the middle of a very rural area of Virginia. There is not a lot to do here. A few restaurants, mainly chains, are located in town and there are a couple of small museums as well. The main attraction is Martinsville Motor Speedway, which despite the name is actually in nearby Ridgeway. In addition to hosting NASCAR Sprint Cup races, the speedway hosts various other races throughout the year and it is worth checking out if a Mustangs game coincides with a race of some sort. There are a few options in Martinsville itself along Main Street and the surrounding area, including Raina’s, a local Italian eatery, and Hugo’s, a popular sports bar. Ultimately though, while Martinsville residents will claim the city has small-town charm, there isn’t a whole lot to offer here.

Fans 3

There were only a few hundred fans in attendance when we visited in a 3,200 seat stadium. Filling a ballpark to 10% capacity is generally not a good look. However, those fans in attendance were a passionate, engaged mix of seasoned fans and young families who cheered on the Mustangs, at least as long as they were at the game. Unfortunately, many of the fans left early despite the game moving at a fairly quick pace. It is nice to see engaged fans, but it would be even nicer if there were more of them and they stayed longer.

Access 3

US Route 58 is the main road you will use to access Martinsville, although it actually bypasses the city itself via Ridgeway so you will need to take other roads for the last couple miles. This is not an interstate highway and does have traffic lights at various points but with little traffic on this stretch, you can make good time. Parking at the stadium itself is easy in a lot right next to the entrance, but keep in mind parking too close will put your car in foul ball territory. Also, some GPS apps seem to want to take you in the exit or out the entrance. Be sure to pay attention to all signs and follow them, not your GPS, if they contradict each other.

Return on Investment 5

Tickets are just $6 for general admission seats and you can get steep discounts for buying multi-game packs or season tickets Holders of multi-game packs also have the option of buying reserved chairback seats behind home plate. Concessions are affordable and parking is free. All in all, a Mustangs game is a great value for baseball fans, whether they are solo travelers, seasoned fans, families, or groups. While fans coming from out of the area may spend a bit on gas to get here, that will depend on where you are coming from. Like the concession stands, credit cards are accepted at the ticket booth but also have to be entered manually. Again, it may be quicker to pay cash, particularly if it is close to game time and you are eager to get into the stadium.

Extras 3

There is a SpongeBob-themed bounce house located down the first base line behind the bleachers for kids to play in.

Meanwhile, there is an area in front of the third base bleachers for kids to play catch or cornhole in. Although there is a sign indicating it is not a kids’ play area, it seems to be widely ignored and the presence of cornhole boards would seem to contradict that message.

A third and final star for all the friendly staff here at Hooker Field.

Final Thoughts

While it is hard to believe Hooker Field hosted affiliated ball less than 20 years ago, it seems to have found its niche as a collegiate summer league venue. While it would be nice to see more fans show up, those who do show up will find that a Mustangs game is a great experience. Although it is not located close to much of anything else, if you’re in the Martinsville area over the summer, be sure to check out a Mustangs game. It will be worth your while.

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