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A Diamond in the Rough No Longer

After more than a decade of being just tenants at their home stadium, Angelo State Rams baseball players and coaches now enjoy the same “Home Turf Advantage” as other ASU athletic teams.

Gone are the gaudy outfield signs, patchy natural grass, maroon colors, broken seats and rundown bathrooms overseen by the stadium’s previous owners. In their place is Foster Field at 1st Community Credit Union Stadium with its sparkling artificial turf field, new outfield wall, ASU blue colors and refurbished facilities. And both the campus and the public noticed.

<p class="p1">Fans cheer on the Rams in the newly renovated stadium.</p>

Fans cheer on the Rams in the newly renovated stadium.

“Attendance is up, and we had people coming out and tailgating at our home games, which hadn’t really happened before,” said Kevin Brooks, head baseball coach. “It also gave our players a real sense of pride to practice there every day and play our games there. We felt like we needed to be a team that was worthy of playing in such a great stadium, and hopefully we exhibited that. We certainly tried to.”

Since its inception in 2005, ASU baseball had shared what was then just Foster Field with the San Angelo Colts. But when the Colts folded after their 2014 season, ASU took ownership of the stadium. ASU alumnus Lloyd Norris again displayed his passion for ASU and Rams baseball by donating $1.25 million to fund renovations that began following the Rams’ 2015 season.

“I left it up to them on how they wanted to spend it,” Norris said. “I think they did a great job on the field and redoing all the seating and having it painted ASU colors. And now, they’ve redone the parking lot, too. It looks like a brand-new facility.”

“A lot of fans who had seen the previous condition of the stadium couldn’t believe it was the same place,” Brooks added. “ASU really did a great job along with Hellas and the other construction companies involved in the renovations. They made it great, and hopefully we’ll keep doing a few little things as we go forward that will make it even better.”

The Rams acclimated to their new stadium quickly,   posting a 16–6 home record in 2016 on their way to a Lone Star Conference regular season championship, NCAA Division II South Central Regional title and second straight trip to the D-II College World Series. Ten players received All-LSC recognition and three have since joined Major League Baseball organizations. Brooks was named ABCA/Diamond South Central Region Coach of the Year.

“If you came to the old stadium and didn’t know anything about our program, you wouldn’t have known if we were a good program or a bad program, or what our colors are,” Brooks said. “Now we’ve got the blue everywhere and the nice sign in right-center field. So what we’d like to do is highlight team and individual accomplishments in the stadium to really showcase the success of our program and all the student-athletes who have played here.”

“Everybody just likes the way the stadium looks, and I think the team is proud to play there.”

Lloyd Norris
ASU Alumnus and Donor

“There is more of a college atmosphere now,” Norris added. “More students are attending the games and there is more tailgating going on, which we are trying to encourage. Everybody just likes the way the stadium looks, and I think the team is proud to play there. I think it may also help out tremendously with recruiting to have a stadium like this.”

For his generous support of the stadium project, Norris has his name permanently emblazoned on the new “Norris Diamond” artificial turf infield.

“It’s pretty cool,” Norris said. “We’ve had a lot of comments from people on what a nice facility it is now. I tell them that I’m just glad I was in a position to help out. Now everything at the stadium is ASU colors and we have our signature on it.”

“With Coach Brooks, John Anderson, Travis Lawler and Rex Scofield all together, I think we have one of the best coaching staffs in Division II baseball,” he added. “That is shown in the success they have had, and I think they’re on the verge of building a little dynasty here with Rams baseball.”

In the meantime, Brooks has a message for everyone who helped make the new stadium a reality. “The players, coaches and I can’t thank them enough,” Brooks said. “It’s great for the players and our students, and from a community sense, this stadium is now a place where people want to come and bring their families and have a positive experience.”

“It also gives our players the best possible environment to hone their craft,” he added. “I think having this stadium environment has increased the players’ productivity, not just in baseball but also in the classroom and everything they do. It really is making a difference in young people’s lives, and at the end of the day, that is the biggest thing.”