FORMER USC PITCHER Ed Hookstratten, who chaired the fund-raising campaign when Dedeaux Field was constructed a quarter of a century ago, is back for an encore. Hes chairman of a new campaign to expand and renovate the 25-year-old campus baseball stadium that is named for legendary coach Rod Dedeaux.
Rod and I have stayed close over the years, says Hookstratten, who played for the Trojans in the early 1950s, and he called me a while back and said, You helped us get the field built, but now its outdated. I need your help again.
Hookstratten, a prominent Beverly Hills sports and entertainment attorney, has put together a high-powered fund-raising committee that includes former Dodgers owner Peter OMalley and former Trojan baseball stars Tom Seaver and Fred Lynn.
Athletic director Mike Garrett, who has made the improvement of facilities one of his priorities, also played for Dedeaux. He was an all-conference outfielder in the mid-1960s.
Dedeaux Field hasnt been improved since it was first built, Garrett says. With the improvements were planning, the stadium will be a better place for the fans, a better place for the teams and a better place for the coaches. Well be presenting college baseball at its best.
When work begins, the capacity of the stadium will be increased by a minimum of 500 seats with the addition of bleachers. In addition, the plan is to remodel the locker rooms, install a team lounge, double the size of the USC Baseball Hall of Fame, expand the coaches offices, enclose and enlarge the press box and remodel the restrooms and concession stands.
Originally, the goal was to remodel the stadium this year, but it will cost approx-imately $4 million, and the athletic department must have the money and pledges in hand before beginning. If the necessary funds are raised fast enough, expansion will start as early as May 2000.
This is an important project, Dedeaux says, and the time to get it done is right now.
THE STADIUM THAT bears his name was built in 1974, the year the Trojans won their unprecedented fifth straight national championship.
We led the way for everyone else when we built Dedeaux Field, says Dedeaux. We inspired other schools to build new stadiums. Ours was rated No. 1. Now, its not even in the top 25.
Certainly, in a poll in Baseball America last year, it didnt rank in the top 15.
If were going to continue to compete with the top programs in the country, its essential that we remodel the stadium, says current coach Mike Gillespie, whose team won the national championship in 1998. Virtually all of the leading programs have built new stadiums or remodeled their old ones or are planning to remodel them. We need to catch up.
As college baseball has become more of a national sport, the top schools, like Miami, LSU and Texas, are coming into Southern California to recruit. Young players are excited when they see state-of-the-art stadiums and locker rooms. Our locker room, in particular, is very antiquated. It makes it tougher for us to recruit.
Jim Perry is a USC assistant athletic director.