Review by Gary
The first chapter of any history book about the New York Mets must include Marion Schools Stadium in Marion, Virginia. This forgotten minor league venue was used by the Appalachian League’s 1955 Welch Miners/Marion A's and later the Marion Mets from 1965 to 1976. Members of the 1969 World Champion Mets and 1973 NL pennant winning Amazins’ started their careers in Marion.
The most famous Met to have pitched here was Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who struck out 115 batters in 13 games during his only season at Marion in 1965. A total of 32 New York Mets players have toiled at this stadium off Interstate 81 in rural western Virginia (source: www.ultimatemets.com).
While the exact date Marion Stadium opened is unknown, the facility looks to be mid-20th century. A wooden press box the size of a small shed sits at the top of the concrete and aggregate grandstand behind home plate. The field serves as the baseball and softball field for Marion’s middle and high schools, which are located way up on a hill above the field. The park is more notable today as the home of the school’s football team. A massive metal grandstand stands along the right field line parallel to the gridiron
Behind the tall, crimson concrete home run wall in left field sits the original cinder block outfield wall that separates the field from the adjoining train yard, which may have once brought visiting teams to town. The field dimensions were once listed as 340-401-420 from left to right (1968) to 340-400-340 (1971) with a cavernous dead center that was created when the football field was cut in half for baseball.
Field level concrete dugouts still exist, and you can use your imagination to picture Met greats such as John Milner, Bruce Boisclair and Neil Allen sitting in them. Former Met closer Billy Wagner, born in Marion, did not pitch here as a professional.
Unfortunately, there is nothing left at Marion Stadium to commemorate that anyone of any level of fame has played baseball here. Weeds now grow in the cracks of the grandstand and the grass is cut, but not taken care of past that. While I was visiting, a couple of gents were doing some work in the more modern clubhouse behind the third base dugout, probably to get it ready for the upcoming football season. Perhaps they have seen the ghosts of those long-gone Mets, but I doubt it. That chapter of Mets history ended long ago.
"Hi Guys. I've recently started a newsletter/website about the history of the Marion Mets. You can check it out here, if you'd like, https://marionmets.substack.com/ There is a Nolan Ryan marker on Main Street here in Marion. I've attached a photo in case you missed while in Marion. Take care."
- Chad, Marion, VA