Baker dedicates Sauder Field
Baker University held a special ceremony to dedicate its new baseball complex, Sauder Field, before the first game of a doubleheader on Saturday afternoon.
The ceremony recognized the Sauder family for its contributions to the university and the baseball field.
"I think it was special for the family," Baker Athletic Director Dan Harris said. "Baker is already a special place for the Sauder family. To involve them in a ceremony, especially with a large group of people, adds to their sense of how special Baker is to them."
Baker baseball coach Phil Hannon said the ceremony was special with the Sauder family there.
"I thought it was just a great event," Hannon said. "With the Sauder family being there, it was just a special time."
The Rev. Ira DeSpain, Baker minister, started the ceremony by quoting the movie "Field of Dreams" before giving his invocation. Then, Baker President Dan Lambert addressed the crowd and introduced Steve Sauder, a Baker trustee who developed ties to the university when sons T.J. and Jamie attended Baker as student-athletes during the 1990s.
Sauder spoke for a few minutes about the university and his family. During his speech, he gave a few wisecracks about Harris and others. Sauder said he is happy to be able to help Baker.
"We're happy and proud we were able to do something for the university," Sauder said. "We're thankful to Baker University for being such an outstanding institution."
A youth baseball clinic and an alumni game were among the events held during the day Saturday.
Harris said the ceremony was really for the Sauder family, because they are so special.
"We have maintained contact with that family for years and they have been really good to us," Harris said. "That was a real dedication to the Sauder family, because they are special people."
Harris also said the Sauder family has been active with the university for a long time.
"They have been givers to this institution for a long time," Harris said. "They have helped with a lot of projects on this campus. They have a good relationship with our president. The things they do for us from a giving standpoint are good, but their word is respected out there. It means a lot to us."
The Wildcats have been playing on the field since Feb. 26. Harris said the university waited so long for the ceremony because of the weather.
"One of our concerns is we wanted to make sure we had good weather, so we decided to push it back later," Harris said. "Plus it worked better with their schedules. Everything got delayed a little, but the big motivator was the weather."
The field still has some work yet to be done. There will be a new scoreboard, flagpole and the Sauder Field sign outside the left field area. The bullpen areas, foul poles, parking lot and the press box are a few of the items still in progress.
Harris said the money has been raised for the finishing touches, they just have to wait on the shipment or delivery of the items.
Hannon said the field has been great for the team thus far.
"Anytime you get a brand new field, it's enjoyable," Hannon said. "The thing I am so proud of is the kids really take pride in it. We want to show every team that comes in it's a very nice playable field. It's nothing but the best. We continue to maintain it like it's a major league ballpark."