Eastern Oregon University > Mountaineer Magazine > highlight1 > Building New Memories

Building New Memories

From snow to sunburn, the EOU Men’s Baseball season plays through any and all weather conditions.  From early mornings to late evenings for both practice and games, the team sees it all.  Except the backdrop of the EOU campus. 

“I love being part of a baseball program being built from the ground up.  It’s taken an enormous amount of hard work, but has been so gratifying,” said Austin Gerding, who joined the Mountaineer baseball team in 2020, recruited from Chemeketa Community College.  “Getting a field on campus would be one of the final pieces of bringing Mountie Baseball to the University and the community.”  

Like so many, former EOU baseball players remember the sinking feeling when the news was announced in 2006 to cut the baseball program. Coaches, players, everyone were saddened for the players and for the loss of this program, knowing how many students – past and at the time – came to play baseball for Eastern.  “It was tough. Like all sports, baseball is more than just a sport.  It brings people together,” Director of Athletics at EOU Anji Weissenfluh said.  “Baseball was a connection to Eastern.  Coming out in the fresh spring air with the campus in the backdrop, like it used to be, as the team played – it was an experience.”

EOU Baseball pitcher throws a pitch

EOU baseball has a history nearly as long as the school itself, dating back to the 1930s, further deepening the roots of the team into the history of the school.  The previous field, formerly located on the southeast end of campus, was overhauled leading to the development of the new Fieldhouse.  

Now, with renewed support from donors, a new on-campus homefield is becoming a reality, but the campaign still needs additional support.  

“The field is the home-plate of the program.  It helps the coaches recruit the best players.  It helps us bring students to EOU – now, and for generations to come.  By supporting it, you get to invest in the team, the campus, the community – everything.  It’s for the future,” said Emily Adams, Executive Director of Philanthropy in University Advancement.  “It’s a university priority to build a competition-level baseball field on campus because of how much this means to our students, our university, and our community.”

Since the 2019 announcement of bringing back baseball to the EOU campus, baseball alumni, local and regional community members, and other friends of the program and university couldn’t be more thrilled to see baseball’s return.  It is through this excitement and support, the Foundation has already seen an upswing in private donations, such as the most recent $100,000 pledge from an EOU graduate and baseball alumnus’ family trust.  “This type of support is so overwhelming and sends a powerful message to our players and our community – people are committed to the long-term vitality of this program and what the students are working to achieve,” Adams said of the gift.

Weissenfluh stressed the importance of raising private funding as soon as possible to bring to reality an on-campus home field, “student-athletes deserve it and we want them to take pride in their field.” Weissenfluh said the new field will be a top tier facility and a source of pride for students and alumni. “EOU has a long history of success in sports,” Weissenfluh said. “We want to build something they are proud to be a part of.”

Easton Watterson, another 2020 recruit who joined the program from Treasure Valley Community College echoed this sentiment, “Having a baseball field on campus will allow players to perform better – and will give our friends, family, alumni, and the community a great venue to watch our games.”

“It’s time to get the proverbial team back together because we need this and we want this,”  Adams exuded.  “We’re committed to rallying everyone together to get a homefield back on campus – to further connect with alumni and the community. Now’s the time – it’s at least a $3 million project to make this a reality.  We’ve just started, but we still have a ways to go to get there.”