On a warm, sunny winter day, Major League Baseball great Tom Candiotti ’78 threw out the first pitch as the Saint Mary’s baseball team opened the 2012 season in the new Louis Guisto Baseball Field.  “This is a top-notch field,” said Candiotti, who was known — and feared — for his knuckleball when he played in the majors. “It will really help the baseball program.  Having a great field makes you work a little harder.”

Candiotti, or “The Candy Man” as he was called, is the biggest star to come out of the Saint Mary’s baseball program. Throughout the 1980s and ’90s, he played with the Milwaukee Brewers, Cleveland Indians, Toronto Blue Jays, Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics. He retired in 1999 with a 152-164 record and 3.73 career ERA and is now a TV-radio analyst for the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Coach Jedd Soto looked on with pride as his team took the field against Southern Utah University.  He called the new ballpark his “field of dreams.”

Many donors made the dream of a new baseball field become a reality.  The K.H. Hoffman Foundation, led by Kenneth Hoffman ’45 and his daughter, Lisa Hoffman Morgan ’81, was the lead donor for the ballpark.  Among the other donors present at the Opening Day ceremony were Don (’51) and Marlene DeLong, Ken (’52) and Patricia Vincent, and Neil and Kathy Norton.

When construction is completed, the new stadium will have a seating capacity of 1,500, compared with 500 in the old facility. It will also boast a state-of-the-art press box, concession stands and an SMC Baseball Wall of Fame in the stadium concourse.

The ballpark is part of a planned $30 million Athletics and Recreation Corridor. A new 52,000-square-foot recreation and aquatics center is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.  “All of the SMC alumni from the last 30 years have been waiting for this field,” Soto said. “We’re playing not just for us, but for them.”

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