Baseball finally sees night game

Jenny Rohl/The News The Racer baseball team rushes Reagan Field under lights for the first time since 1939.

Reagan Field’s new lights allows for baseball to play into the evening

Jenny Rohl/The News The Racer baseball team rushes Reagan Field under lights for the first time since 1939.

Jenny Rohl/The News
The Racer baseball team rushes Reagan Field under lights for the first time since 1939.

April 2 marked the first night game in Murray State history thanks to the newest addition to Reagan Field: lights.

University President Emeritus Tim Miller was instrumental in making the lights a reality. In 2014 Miller moved the proposal to the top of the priority list for the University and athletics and that helped fund the project. The new lights project cost about $375,000.

“This was part of a campaign we started a couple years ago to add the grandstand and add lights and add a press box and eventually add an indoor hitting facility,” said Associate Athletic Director Steve Harrel. “Obviously this was well overdue because we’ve been able to do a lot of different facility projects over the years and this is an area that hasn’t had a lot of attention.”

Reagan Field had been relatively unchanged since opening day on March 11, 1989.

“It means a lot to our program,” said Head Coach Kevin Moulder. “Our current players certainly are excited, but I know it means a lot to our alumni. It shows them the commitment level that the school and the athletic department is putting into the baseball program.”

Some of those alumni attended the April 2 game against Jacksonville State. James “Sonny” Ward and George Dugan, both members of the 1963 OVC Championship team, traveled to Murray for the weekend just to be a part of the historic night.

“I’m thrilled to death that we’re under the lights,” Ward said.

Former players didn’t think they would ever see lights on the field.

“We probably got the approval for these lights a year ago,” Harrel said. “Then it was a lot of site work and figuring out if the electricity is going to work. But it was amazing; they dug the holes sometime in January. They delivered the poles with the lights on a Tuesday and by Thursday they were all up and installed.”

Former Head Coach and field namesake, Johnny Reagan, made the trip to the ballpark to see the field improvements. He wasn’t surprised that lights were added, he said he expected them to be put in eventually.

“It’s become nearly a competitive necessity,” Reagan said. “College baseball has gotten to the point where you’d like to eliminate as many doubleheaders as you can. It solves a little problem – maybe not a big problem but a little problem. It’s really a nice addition.”

Fans filled the seats and spilled over into terraced seating on the first and third base sides of Reagan Field.

“I’m almost a little surprised at how many townspeople are out here,” Reagan said.

Having the ability to play at night has changed the size of the crowd that is possible for the Racers.

“The students who aren’t too academically inclined – they don’t mind to give up their night for a baseball game.” 

University President Bob Davies attended as well. He said he was happy to see so many people at the game.

“It’s neat to see all the faculty, the staff, the students and community members out enjoying a baseball game,” Davies said.

Story by Blake Bernier, Staff writer