New renovations hit it out of the park

Jesse Gonzalez 

Asst. Sports Editor 

Poet Baseball opened their gates to a newly renovated baseball stadium and field at Whittier College. Formerly known as Memorial Field, the gates for Hugh B. Mendez Stadium and Adam Elberg Field opened on Feb. 2. Additions to the stadium and baseball field include a new entrance gateway that leads from the parking lot to the stadium alongside the right field line, a three-tunnel batting cage, and lights and bullpens down the left field line. 

Complete with a permanent grandstand, press box, and surround sound public address system, this new scenery also allows media fans to feel comfortable as they watch the Poets take the field. Fans are greeted by the gold lettering that reads “Adam Elberg Field” and “Hugh B. Mendez Stadium” on top of the entrance gate. Walking on the newly paved pathway, fans are now able to sit on cushioned stadium seats instead of the uncomfortable bleachers the stadium had before. 

Fans are given the sense and scenery of a “Division I” field. “If there is one quote I can remember from all of my coaches, it [is] look good, feel good, play good,” said fourth-year, second baseman Andrew Lamar. “With this beautiful facility we feel good as a unit, and we are ready to play this year.” 

Members of the media and sports information are now able to work inside their own press box — one that is fully equipped with power, lighting, and a built- in table. “It feels good to finally put all the equipment we use in one place,” said Director of Athletic Communications Lance Franey. “We used to have our broadcasters and sports information worker sit in the bleachers next to parents when we first started.” 

“My sophomore year, we were working in the corner [near the visiting team’s dugout] and you could not see half the field,” said third - year Cameron Cruz. “This new press box is amazing. Now I have the ideal perspective to [broadcast] the best game possible.”  

This project was made possible by the donations of two Whittier alumni, both of whom are former student-athletes, [Adam Elberg ‘91, Keith Gendreau ‘80] and by donations from Keith and Allison Gendreau. 

Elberg provided funding for Hugh B. Mendez stadium, while the Gendreaus’ led all renovations. 

“Current and future Poet baseball players will compete on one of the best small school facilities in the West,” said Head Coach Mike Rizzo. “We are so fortunate to have alumni who are not only philanthropic, but also understand the importance that outstanding facilities play in recruiting and retaining quality student-athletes.”

“We are fortunate to have over 1,000 individuals who believe in the impact of the collegiate athletic experience and choose to support our teams and student-athletes each and every year,” said Executive Director of Athletics Robert Coleman. “Your generosity is not lost on our student-athletes. They know that when they come to Whittier, they are standing on the shoulders of those that came before them.”  

The Gendreaus’ made the decision to name the stadium in memory of former Whittier College coach and educator Hugh B. Mendez. Before baseball, Mendez became the first African-American to coach football, then later became the head coach for Whittier’s baseball team. Mendez, who devoted his time at Whittier to coaching and education, was inducted into the Purple & Gold Hall of Fame in 2014. 

With baseball season already underway, make sure to catch the next home game on Thursday, Feb. 22 against Castleton College, or Friday, Feb. 23 against the University of Redlands.