ALLIANCE, Ohio — The University of Mount Union is installing a donor funded, artificial turf infield at its baseball field.
The surface will be done AstroTurf in its Diamond series turf which has been installed at a variety of college fields including Ohio State, Michigan and Vanderbilt.
"This will be a tremendous boost to our program," commented 24-year head coach Paul Hesse. "I am so proud and thankful that so many former players and supporters have stepped up to make this a reality."
The field will also be getting a new name as it will change from 23rd Street Field to Rafeld-Rogers Field after 30-year coach Jack 'Skip' Rafeld and former player and Alliance native Mike Rogers.
Rafeld served in various capacities of the Mount Union athletic department and physical education department from 1946-1979. In 30 years as baseball coach, Rafeld guided the Purple Raiders to an overall record of 304-220-3, won Ohio Athletic Conference titles in 1964 and 1970 and was the 1970 OAC Coach of the Year. The OAC Baseball Player of the Year Award was named after him from 1978-2011. His .568 winning percentage is currently ninth-best for a baseball coach in conference history.
Rogers was a four-year letterwinner at second base for Mount Union from 1974-77. As a senior in 1977, he hit .320 in 30 games and was tied for fourth in runs batted in with 16. After college, Rogers spent 17 years playing second base in the Canton Class A Baseball League. He made the All-Star Team in three different decades and played on three different League Championship teams. In 2001, he was inducted into the Stark County Amateur Baseball Hall of Fame. Rogers also spent many years as a baseball and wrestling coach for St. Thomas Aquinas High School.
Plans are to dedicated the field during Homecoming and Alumni Weekend on Sunday, Oct. 20, during the alumni baseball game.
The infield is the first of a multi-phase project that eventually hopes to bring a new home dugout, press box and seating area, a remodeled entrance to the complex and a turf outfield. For information on these projects and how you can help, go to the Giving page.