ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The University of New Mexico baseball team will honor the legacy of former Lobo Tom Dunn with a special plaque dedication this Saturday during Alumni Weekend as former players from across the decades will return to Albuquerque once again.
“Alumni Weekend is a good get together by all the people that have experienced Lobo Baseball,” head coach Ray Birmingham said. “It’s good to see them annually and all the friendships they have made. It’s also a great opportunity for the alumni to meet the current players.”
The weekend will kick off with a social Thursday at 6 p.m. at Uptown Sports Bar & Grill as former players will mingle with current ones. The fun doesn’t stop there, however, because Friday night the Alumni Lettermen’s Association is hosting a Homecoming Social in the End Zone Club for lettermen of all sports.
Saturday will begin with a very special dedication to Mr. Dunn, who helped save the baseball program back in 1988.
“Tom Dunn is a hero for UNM Baseball,” Birmingham said, “and he will always be remembered as a hero.”
Mr. Dunn, who played at UNM from 1960-62 and was a member of UNM’s first ever NCAA Tournament team, was part of the Legends for Lobos fundraising event that helped raise money when the program was in danger of being cut.
“In 1988 (Athletic Director Dr. John Koenig) was under tremendous pressure to meet some budgets,” said Gig Brummel, a teammate of Mr. Dunn’s for three years. “It wasn’t only baseball they were going to shut down. I think it was the same time the gymnastics team, which was a contender for the national championship, was shut down.
“Tom’s son, Greg, was playing baseball for the Lobos and Tom wanted to maintain the program. So he went out and started getting a lot of old Lobos involved.”
Mr. Dunn, along with David Hunt, who played for the Lobos in 1964 and ’65, and Ernie Blackstone (who played in 1978), organized the Legends for Lobos event in October 1988.
“It was a huge effort to save the program,” Blackstone said. “UNM Baseball was going to be cut. There had to be an effort put forth by the community to save it. With the help of Tom Dunn, David Hunt and myself, we put on this weekend around a Hall of Fame exhibition game.
“Vince Cappelli, (the head coach at the time), was good friends with the Torre brothers, Joe and Frank, so they put together this Hall of Fame game. We tied it into more than that. We made it a weekend with a full gamut of events.”
Along with the Hall of Fame exhibition game, they also hosted the Joe Torre Classic Golf Tournament and a celebrity roast of former Lobo player and New Mexico senator Pete Domenici.
“Without (Legends for Lobos) happening, the program probably wouldn’t be here today,” Brummel said.
Mr. Dunn passed away in August 2012, but his memory will live on forever at Lobo Field. Before the Alumni Baseball Game Saturday morning, Birmingham and the team will dedicate a plaque to Mr. Dunn to remain in the clubhouse and batting cage area. It will read:
In Memory of Tom J. Dunn
Tom J. Dunn, 1940-2012, a three-year Lobo Letterman, was an outstanding member of the 1962 Skyline Championship Lobo Baseball Team. He was a prominent Albuquerque attorney. Tom was a humble man who put the needs of others before his own. In 1988 his leadership was instrumental in the successful effort to save the Lobo baseball program, which was in jeopardy of being eliminated because of budget cuts in UNM’s athletic department. Thank you, Tom, for all your work on our behalf.
Sincerely, Lobo Baseball
“He was a very giving man,” said Blackstone. “His loss was felt tremendously, and he’s missed constantly. He loved the game of baseball and cared about people. There was a lot of community effort from that man.
“He was ultra caring. He cared about people, the welfare of people, and the welfare of the community. He’s one of those guys that would do anything for anybody.”
Brummel also remembers his former teammate fondly.
“I played with him for three years and he was a heck of an athlete,” he said. “He was a very good guy who was very well respected. He was just a great person.”
Following the dedication, the alumni will play a six-inning game on Lobo Field at 10 a.m. That afternoon the alumni will attend the Homecoming Tailgate Part in the Lettermen’s Lounge in The Pit before the UNM football game versus UNLV at 6 p.m.
At halftime of the game, the 1985 baseball team will be honored. That team holds the school record for wins in a season with 42 and set numerous offensive records in what was one of the greatest seasons in program history.
Because of generous people like Mr. Dunn, future Lobo players still have the opportunity to proudly wear the Cherry and Silver on Lobo Field as they try to maintain the high standard of UNM Baseball.
“Over all the years, Tom Dunn was a major supporter of Lobo Baseball,” said Blackstone. “The program would not be where it is today without his efforts. It’s just that plain and simple.”