MONTGOMERY, AL - For the first time since the 1996 season, Alabama State baseball has returned home to the ASU campus. This Saturday, March 26th, the Hornets will play the inaugural game at the ASU Baseball Complex at 1 p.m. vs. Alcorn St.
The splendor of what will be a grand event will commence with a special pregame ceremony beginning at 12:30 p.m. leading right up to the first pitch of Saturday's doubleheader. Other special events for the complex opening include an interactive area for kids and the introduction of former Hornet baseball players in attendance between the first and second games of the doubleheader.
The baseball complex is the first of several athletics construction projects that will come on line at Alabama State. The football team is scheduled to move into its new football complex building later this spring and the initial phases of the new on-campus football stadium and softball complex are underway.
All of the athletics projects are a part of the broader scope of the University's Vision 20/20 plan to transform Alabama State University into a Level VI Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Colleges (SACS COC) classified institution, offering doctoral degrees in four or more major academic or professional disciplines.
G.W. "Pop" Lockhart, for whom Lockhart Gymnasium is named, started the program in 1926 and was the first head coach for 42 seasons. Longtime assistant Herbert Wheeler took over as head coach late in the 1960's and coached through the 1981 season.
Current Head Coach Larry Watkins, who played for Wheeler and assisted him as head coach after graduating from ASU in 1974, became head coach in 1982. The former center fielder who roamed Hornet Stadium initially as a player before moving into the coaching ranks, will manage the exciting return of baseball on campus.
Hornet Stadium had been the home of the Hornet baseball program since the sports' inception at the school in 1926, and currently serves as the practice field home for the football and cross country/track and field teams and home to the women's soccer team.
Baseball was last played on campus at Hornet Stadium in 1996. The Summer Olympics were held that year in nearby Atlanta, Ga. and provided a boost to ASU. That summer, the University became a host venue for the Olympic Track and Field trials, which provided upgrades to the track and field area at Hornet Stadium.
Those improvements also ended up displacing the baseball team, which for the last 15 years has primarily played its home games at Peter Crump Field and Paterson Field. After a long absence ASU Hornets Baseball finally returns home to campus on Saturday.