Samford Stadium At Hitchcock Field At Plainsman Park
The site of Southeastern Conference baseball excitement since 1950, Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park was voted the best collegiate baseball facility in the country by Baseball America prior to the 2003 season.
Auburn's Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park placed itself among the nation's finest college baseball facilities after receiving a $4.2 million facelift nine years ago.
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 to the facility since its initial renovations in 1996.
The most recent projects included a new drainage system and playing surface in the Summer of 2003 and the completion of the Strength and Rehabilitation Center adjacent to Plainsman Park in January of 2004.
The Strength and Rehabilitation Center is a two-story, 13,274 square foot facility that houses a weight room for the baseball team on the first floor and a rehabilitation and research center on the second floor.
The weight room is unrivaled in collegiate baseball and features nearly 50 pieces of equipment. The facility also has its own lockerroom.
The second floor of the Strength and Rehabilitation Center is occupied by HealthSouth and the Alabama Sports Medicine Institute, led by world-renowned orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. The project broke ground on October 25, 2002 at a construction cost of $2,502,380.
In the Summer of 2001, construction began on a $2.3 million renovation to Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park that included the addition of 630 chairback box seats down the right and left field foul lines.
Upon completion in February 2002, the new landscape now provides a more intimate setting for the nation's top facility, allowing fans to have seats down each foul line within feet of the playing surface. Renovations also included additional concession and restroom facilities behind the newly added seats along the right field foul line.
The bullpens, which once existed where the seats down the foul line were added, have found new locations in Plainsman Park. Auburn's bullpens are located behind the Green Monster in left field, while the visiting bullpen rests beyond the right center field fence, next to the K Corner.
Prior the 2002 renovations, Auburn's existing scoreboard was the last addition to Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park. Added prior to the 1998 season, the 50-foot-high structure is framed by a pair of five-foot-wide brick columns, which support the steel girders holding the board in place.
The scoreboard includes a 16-by-12 foot matrix screen. But the most prominent feature is a old-style, analog clock which sits atop the structure.
The 10-year-old Plainsman Park seats 4,096, including 3,227 chairback seats. In addition, state-of-the-art concessions, restrooms, ticket and pressfacilities have transformed Auburn's baseball field into a renaissance of Camden Yard proportions.
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 design combines the look of old-time ballparks with academic buildings on the Auburn campus to create a facade of brick and painted steel.
Inside, the park offers the brick backstop of Wrigley Field, the dark green chairback seats of Camden Yards and the Green Monster of Fenway Park.
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 lawn allows for another 750 fansto enjoy Auburn baseball.
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 an outfield wall, which provided a distinct change in the playing dynamics of Plainsman Park.
Instead of the 12-foot cyclone fence which had encircled the field in the past, a dark green, asymmetrically designed wall made of metal is now in place.
The most unique feature of the fence is the 30-foot "Green Monster" in left field, which provides an aesthetically pleasing view to spectators in the grandstand. Rather than the leftfield foul pole being 345 feet from home plate, as in the past, the wall will be just 315 feet from the batter.
Beginning at the leftfield power alley and continuing around to the rightfield 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 parking lot behind the east side of Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Plainsman Park was host to the 1978 NCAA South Regional and NCAA Regionals in 1999 and 2003. It has also witnessed the budding baseball careers of Bo Jackson, Tim Hudson, Gregg Olson, Scott Sullivan and Frank Thomas. 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.
Most recently, Plainsman Park had the privilege of hosting President George W. Bush. Approximately 14,000 people gathered at Plainsman Park 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 long-time 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 1990's. It was his work that has made Samford Stadium-Hitchcock Field at Plainsman Park the top collegiate baseball facility 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.
The late 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.