After 21 Years, Baseball Returns to Campus
Among those throwing a first pitch before Wednesday's game were (l-r): current player Frank Cipolla; Associate AD Ted Stavropoulos; Coach Jeff Calcaterra; A. Peter LoMaglio, the University's first Athletics Director; and current AD Pat Meiser-McKnett.
Best of all, the Hawks scored a 6-2 victory over the University of Massachusetts, marking the first on-campus win by a University of Hartford baseball team since April 23, 1982.
Wednesday’s match-up was the first baseball game played on campus since 1985, when the University last had a baseball field. For the first time in two decades, students, faculty, staff, and other members of the University community were able to cheer for the Hawks at a home game. And they had good reason to cheer; the team’s first two hits of the game were home runs.
“It’s a dream come true,” President Walter Harrison said, as he took in the game on the dazzling, sun-drenched field. “You picture something for so long, you work hard for it, you deal with all the obstacles that arise in a complex project like this . . . And it’s all worth it to come here and see this.”
The baseball field is part of the University’s Home Field Advantage campaign. Another milestone in the campaign will take place on Saturday (April 1), when the University’s new softball field makes its debut. The softball team will take on the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, at 1 p.m. An informal ceremony will take place shortly before the game, at about 12:50 p.m.
Hartford Baseball, Past and Present
Before Wednesday’s game, President Harrison and former players representing different eras in University of Hartford baseball threw ceremonial first pitches. Among the 11 people who took part in the “first pitch” ceremony were former Hartford baseball players Ed Lehan ’53, Norm Young ’82, and John Tuozzo ’85, as well as A. Peter LoMaglio, the University’s first director of athletics. Current player Frank Cipolla ‘06 and Head Coach Jeff Calcaterra represented today’s baseball program.
Both Lehan and Jerry D’Apice played baseball from 1949 to 1953 for Hillyer College, one of the three schools that merged in 1957 to form the University of Hartford. On Wednesday, they reminisced about playing at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium, Colt Park, or any other public facility that could accommodate them, and they marveled at how far things have come.
“This is spectacular,” D’Apice said. “What an amazing thing to be able to come to campus and sit down and watch baseball.”
Among the many people who came to cheer on the Hawks at their first game on the new field was Becky Stouffer, the mother of freshman baseball player Brady Stouffer. Becky Stouffer surprised her son by driving all the way from Maryland, unannounced, to see Wednesday’s game.
“This is the start of a whole new program. It’s just the beginning,” Becky Stouffer said.
“The spirit that (the new field) is going to bring to the campus is going to be so rewarding," she added. “This is a joy.”