Auburn's baseball home for the past 67 seasons, Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park seats 4,096, including 3,227 chairback seats. The design combines the look of old-time ballparks with academic buildings on the Auburn campus to create a facade of brick and painted steel.
|Field||Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park|
|Address||351 South Donahue Drive
Auburn, Ala. 36830
|Field Type||Natural Grass|
A 1998 facelift transformed Auburn's baseball field into a renaissance of Camden Yard proportions. The park offers the brick backstop of Wrigley Field, the dark green chairback seats of Camden Yards and the Green Monster of Fenway Park, each timeless elements borrowed and melded together to create a timeless atmosphere for college baseball.
In 2016, Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park was named one of the top venues in the country for college baseball by D1Baseball.com. Baseball America voted the facility the best in college baseball prior to the 2003 season.
The intimacy of the park extends to the position of the spectators. The front row box seats are located close to the infield action, just four feet off the ground and only 40 feet from the first and third base bags. The backstop is just 60 feet from home plate.
Down the left field line perched above the box seats, a terraced area allows for another 750 fans to enjoy Auburn baseball.
Besides the playing field and grand stands, the structure also houses the Tigers' clubhouse, which features a locker room, training and equipment areas, an indoor hitting tunnel, a team lounge area, coaches' offices and umpire dressing room.
The commitment to excellence of Auburn's baseball program is evident by the continuing efforts to keep Plainsman Park on the forefront of college baseball. Those efforts have included three additions and numerous upgrades to the facility since its initial renovations in 1996.
The most recent upgrades were completed prior to the 2017 season with the goal of continuing to improve fan experience when one of the largest video boards in the country measuring 24'0" x 62'4" and a new state-of-the-art sound system were installed along with a MUSCO LED lighting system. Additionally, 3,800 chair back seats throughout the ballpark were replaced.
Auburn baseball also partnered with TrackMan to implement a data analytic system that brings the Tigers to the forefront nationally in next-level player development. TrackMan incorporates video and uses 3D Doppler radar to measure extension, spin rate, speed, exit velocity and more. TrackMan allows the coaching staff to dive deeper and help Auburn players take the next step to develop and strengthen their identities on the field.
Key renovations and additions came in both 2013 and 2014. First, former Auburn All-American Tim Hudson and his wife Kim donated $1 million for upgrades to the Auburn clubhouse, locker room, equipment room and athletic training room inside Plainsman Park that were completed in late 2013. Additionally as part of the renovation, new coach's offices, meeting rooms and an alumni room were added.
In 2014 both the home and away dugouts were extended 10 feet and new benches were added complete with permanent camera wells.
Beginning in 2010, the outfield wall was padded and represents a Wall of Fame for Auburn baseball, recognizing former greats of the program. The first class of inductees included Bo Jackson, Gregg Olson, Frank Thomas and Tim Hudson on February 27, 2010.
The Plainsman Park Strength and Rehabilitation Center was completed in January of 2004. It houses an x-ray lab, rehabilitation center, physical therapy area, offices for Auburn Sports Medicine Clinic and Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center – a research institute directed by Dr. James Andrews, which serves nationally acclaimed professional athletes as well as Auburn's student-athletes.
Rehabilitation services are also available to the public. Physical therapist Dave Walsh also operates on the second floor and is dedicated to addressing the needs of Auburn's student-athletes.
In the summer of 2001, construction began on a $2.3 million renovation to Plainsman Park that included the addition of 630 chairback box seats down the right and left field foul lines. The bullpens, which once existed where the seats down the foul line are now, were relocated during the renovation. Auburn's bullpen is located behind the Green Monster in left field, while the visiting bullpen rests beyond the right-center field fence, next to the K Corner.
Although the grandstand was constructed prior to the 1996 season, one part of the project was already in place for the 1995 season. Auburn installed a dark green asymmetrically designed outfield wall, which provided a distinct change in the playing dynamics of Plainsman Park.
The most unique feature of that fence is still in place with the 30-foot "Green Monster" in left field, which provides an aesthetically pleasing view to spectators in the grandstand. Rather than the left field foul pole being 345 feet from home plate, as in the past, the wall is just 315 feet from the batter.
Beginning at the left field power alley and continuing around to the right field foul pole, the top of the wall drops down from 30 to eight feet.
Auburn baseball moved its home to the present location in time for the 1950 season. Prior to that, all home games were played on what is now a campus green behind the east side of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Plainsman Park was host to the 1978 NCAA South Regional and NCAA Regionals in 1999, 2003 and 2010. It has also witnessed the budding baseball careers of Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson, Gregg Olson, Scott Sullivan, Frank Thomas, Gabe Gross and Josh Donaldson. In 1994, John Powell struck out LSU's Warren Morris at Plainsman Park to set the NCAA career strikeout record. Powell also set the SEC all-time strikeout mark at Plainsman Park, against Arkansas in 1993.
Plainsman Park also has had the privilege of hosting President George W. Bush. Approximately 14,000 people gathered on October 24, 2002, to listen to Bush speak. Bush's visit marked the first time since Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1939 that a United States President visited Auburn while in office.
The field is named in honor of Billy and Jimmy Hitchcock, brothers who became two of Auburn's most noteworthy athletic performers during the 1930s. In 1997, Plainsman Park was renamed Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park.
The university renamed the facility Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park in May of 2003, naming the stadium after longtime Auburn Board of Trustee Member W. James "Jimmy" Samford, Jr.
Jimmy Samford, who passed away in December of 2003, worked tirelessly in spearheading the efforts for the renovations of Plainsman Park in the late 1990s. It was his work that has made Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park one of the top collegiate baseball facilities in the country. Samford graduated from Auburn in political science in 1972 and was appointed to the board in 1987.
The late Jimmy Hitchcock was Auburn's first All-American in both baseball and football and was known as the "Phantom of Union Springs" for his overall athletic ability. Following a career in Major League Baseball, Jimmy Hitchcock coached the Auburn baseball team in the 1940s before being elected to the Public Service Commission of Auburn on three different occasions.
Billy Hitchcock led Auburn to its first SEC baseball title in 1937 and to its first football bowl game later that fall. Following a nine-year Major League playing career with five teams, "Mr. Billy" earned the title of "The Dignified War Eagle" as manager of the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves and as commissioner of the Southern League. Hitchcock passed away at the age of 89 in April 2006.