March 1, 2012
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The University of New Mexico broke ground on renovations at Lobo Field, Tuesday, in what was a great day for the future of Lobo baseball. With the entire current team, which features 12 players from the state, and many former players in attendance, the university began making improvements in what it hopes will be just the first of many phases of the renovation.
Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs said that demolition had already begun and this first phase will result in new bleachers, new dugouts, a new playing surface, a new scoreboard and a new outfield wall.
“One of my favorite quotes is from Helen Keller,” he said. “She said, ‘Worse than being blind is having no vision.’
“This renovation, this improvement, will be huge in the evolution of our baseball program. And bricks and mortar and all those things are really nice, but what this project really is, in my opinion, is vision and a message to all of New Mexico, young and old, alums and non-alums, that we can be great. We can be as good as anybody in the country. We have to believe, we have to commit, and we have to work hard to get it done.”
Head baseball coach Ray Birmingham has long been an advocate, and fundraiser, of this renovation and is thrilled it is finally here.
“It is a start of New Mexico coming together in an effort to do something special, do something great, to be who we can be with a can-do attitude,” he said. “It is a big deal to me. There are a lot of New Mexico boys in the back of the room that it’s a big deal too.”
Birmingham told a story about a man dressed in a City of Las Vegas (New Mexico) shirt that he met last season following one of the team’s games. The man waited for Birmingham, who was last to leave the stadium, and introduced himself.
“He got to talking and he said, ‘Coach, my name is Johnny Martinez, and Johnny Martinez represents New Mexico,” Birmingham said. ‘I am a disabled worker from the city of Las Vegas, N.M., and I believe in what you believe in; I believe in New Mexico. I’m disabled, I don’t have much money, but here is $100, and I want to buy the new home plate in that new stadium, and I want every baseball player in the state to touch it.’
“(This project) is about daring to be great,” Krebs said. “I think Ray’s vision, not only for the baseball program, but his vision about what we can be, is real and resonates with all of us in the athletic department, and certainly with the baseball program.”