(First in a four-part series on the venues of ACU athletics)
Baseball stadiums are modern-day cathedrals. Large, cavernous spaces filled with the spirits of great athletes past and present – a testament to a great American pastime and all its glory.
The aura of the baseball stadium surrounds not just the Green Monster at Fenway Park or the ivy at Wrigley Field but also small ballparks and abandoned lots across the country.
For ACU, that cathedral is Crutcher Scott Field.
University officials decided to bring baseball to ACU in 1990 when construction began on what would become one of the largest ballparks in Division II. Funds for construction were raised through benefit dinners with Texas Rangers’ pitcher Nolan Ryan, who played a role in designing the stadium. The end result was what ACU Athletic Director Jared Mosley calls one of the most spectacular facilities in collegiate baseball.
“The thing that always comes to mind when thinking about Crutcher Scott Field is when you see the faces of opponents and recruits who are amazed at the conditions here,” Mosley said. “It rivals minor league parks around the country. At our level, it has all the bells and whistles.”
The stadium has undergone major transformations since the first game against Tarleton State in February 1991. Students watched the first game from the back of trucks; today they sit in stands with a capacity of more than 4,000 people.
Head Coach Britt Bonneau believes the fan experience is what makes Crutcher Scott Field great – on the field and in the stands. The stadium has a large gated entry and even a grill for fans to cook their own food. ACU consistently ranks among the top three in Division II in attendance, which Bonneau believes gives his team a distinct home-field advantage.
“Our crowds are unheard of in Division II,” Bonneau said. “It’s like having a 10th or 11th person on the field. It’s a great atmosphere and a great place to be when we’re playing.”
Along with avid and numerous fans, the facility has world-class technical attributes, as well.
“We have a Division I facility and Division I playing surface that’s second to none,” Bonneau said. “We have MLB lighting, and over the years, we’ve added indoor facilities, giving the players a place to train and a great clubhouse.”
Crutcher Scott Field has hosted some great events in its history. Athletes have played junior college tournaments and NCAA regional tournaments at the park. The park was even home to a minor league team, the Abilene Prairie Dogs, for a while.
The park has also played host to several Lone Star Conference championships, and the 2010 tournament will be there, as well. Bonneau says his favorite memory of the stadium was winning the 2002 conference championship in front of their home crowd, a feat that was repeated last season.
The Wildcats are currently the No. 12 team in the nation, and many more dramatic and historic moments are likely this season. Moments to be written in another chapter of the history of Crutcher Scott Field.
Every home run, strikeout and stolen base will add to the stadium’s aura – another moment for ACU’s great cathedral.