When the Royals hosted the Houston Astros in the American League Division Series, their owner Jim Crane paid a visit to University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg. Crane was a pitcher for the Mules and the stadium in which the team plays in is named after him. Crane wanted to continue to give back to the program and he is donating a new Astro-turf field that will be installed and ready for play this upcoming 2016 season.
It is the same type of surface that is used by the Toronto Blue Jays and Tampa Bay Rays. It contains the shreds of rubber similar to what you would see on a football field, but the baseball field will also hold sand which will help determine how fast or slow the field plays.
Yesterday, UCM President, Dr. Chuck Ambrose and A.D. Jerry Hughes made the announcement to the players. (VIDEO, courtesy UCM Athletics)
“The bond between a player and a coach and the appreciation of an alumnus in their university is again evident in the support that Jim Crane has provided to the University of Central Missouri and our baseball program. When we think about Tompkins Field and Crane Stadium, the value of that relationship is what is highlighted by this incredible gift that Jim has provided,” said UCM President, Dr. Chuck Ambrose.
The new synthetic playing surface will make the field playable when it otherwise might not be due to inclement weather. It will reduce the amount of maintenance needed to keep the field playable and will reduce the amount of time that student-athletes have to work on the field.
“We really appreciate the dedication of Jim Crane to making Central Missouri one of the best collegiate baseball programs in the country. His generous giving attitude will never let him forget where he came from,” said Jerry Hughes, UCM director of intercollegiate athletics.
Originally opened during the 1976 season and called Mules’ Field, James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field was renovated in the spring of 1998 thanks primarily to funding from Crane. The project included a locker room and coaches’ offices for the Mules, an umpire’s dressing room, new dugouts, permanent seats, a concession stand, a press box, and lights. In the fall of 2004, a new indoor batting cage and weight room facility was added, again funded by Crane.