December 7, 2009

Gauchos Announce Strategic Plan to Enhance Baseball Venue

Dec. 7, 2009

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UCSB Athletics is proud to announce a strategic marketing plan focused on the future of Caesar Uyesaka Stadium and improvements to the campus ballpark, which is home to both Gauchos and Santa Barbara Foresters baseball.

The plan is called "Gaucho Park at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, Home of Gaucho and Foresters Baseball" with a vision of enhancing the shared ballpark beginning this season. UCSB plans to market the history of former Gaucho and Foresters greats with stadium signage branding while addressing annual field upgrade needs and long-term improvements. The plan is led by a campaign for lights for the 2011 college season.

"I want to personally thank Bill Pintard and the Foresters board for seeing how together we can showcase the history of Forester and Gaucho baseball at Caesar Uyesaka and start telling the rich story of Santa Barbara baseball as we attack stadium enhancements," said UCSB Director of Athletics Mark Massari. "We have a shared vision for Caesar Uyesaka Stadium. We are strong together."

The Gauchos, in conjunction with the Foresters, will hold an exclusive dinner celebration with legendary Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda on February 5th. The private engagement called "A Night with Tommy," will be held in the Santa Barbara area with donations from the event earmarked for the facility campaign. Those interested in attending should contact Marketing and Events Coordinator for Development Christina Baglas, at (805) 893-5372 or visit UCSBgauchos.com.

The event will also induct the inaugural class of the Santa Barbara Foresters' Hall of Fame. The first class of inductees will be the late Eric Pintard, a former pitcher and the founder of the "Hugs for Cubs" program, former Gaucho Ryan Spilborghs, and longtime Forester and former Santa Barbara City College player, Chris Koeper.

"The Foresters are excited about improving baseball at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium for the entire community of Santa Barbara and Goleta, as well as provide a permanent home for Foresters baseball and our Hugs for Cubs activities for years to come," said Foresters manager Bill Pintard.

Many community clinics and camps, along with the California Collegiate League Foresters, use Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, on one of the nation's most picturesque college campuses, each summer. Since UCSB relocated to the coastal campus in 1949, Gaucho baseball has been played on this site. In 1994 the stadium was completely overhauled with community support and named for the former civic and baseball enthusiast Uyesaka.

Since 2004, generous Gaucho baseball donors have added close to $1 million in player amenities including a new locker room and state-of-the-art batting cages. Facility enhancements are essential to UCSB Athletics' "Dare to Be Great" initiative, launched last spring.

Bob Brontsema (UCSB '83) enters his 17th year as manager for the Gauchos. This past summer Tom Myers (UCSB '91) was appointed Associate Head Coach with additional duties of directing alumni communications and development for the program. UCSB is in the top third of the powerful Big West Conference in producing professional baseball players and led the conference in players drafted in 2009 with nine, including the first player drafted from the Big West - pitcher Joe Gardner, selected by the Cleveland Indians in the third round.

Current major league players include St. Louis' Skip Schumaker, Colorado's Ryan Spilborghs, Pittsburgh's Virgil Vasquez and Michael Young, a member of the Texas Rangers, who was named to his sixth All-Star team this summer and was the American League's starting third baseman and only former Big West player in the starting lineup at the Midsummer Classic. Young was also the named 2008 MLB Man of the Year and won a Gold Glove at shortstop that same season. The Gauchos and Foresters alumni also fill the ranks of minor league baseball each year.

The Foresters' roots in Santa Barbara baseball go back over 50 years. Each summer the club, which has won two National Baseball Congress championships in recent years, gives the Santa Barbara community an opportunity to watch college players gain experience using wood bats before signing with professional baseball teams.

The Future - Gaucho Park at Caesar Uyesaka Stadium, Home of Foresters and Gaucho Baseball

UCSB Athletics is in the early stages of an important capital campaign to upgrade all athletics venues anchored by construction of a new aquatics center. The comprehensive campaign includes an upgraded Caesar Uyesaka Stadium which, when finished, will showcase the history of Gauchos and Foresters baseball and the Santa Barbara area as well.

The future venue will seat approximately 1,000 fans, equipped with lights, an improved field, a refurbished press box, new field box seats and grandstands, a built-in merchandise area, restrooms, concessions, plaza and ticket windows. Lights will allow both programs flexibility in scheduling, which helps with missed class time and ensures strong community and campus attendance. Lights are currently pending final fundraising and campus approval.

The event with Tommy Lasorda ("A Night with Tommy," Feb. 5) is earmarked to contribute to lights and field improvements.

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