Over the weekend, Kentucky Wildcats baseball played its final regular-season series at Cliff Hagan Stadium, and celebrated the ballpark’s legacy in the process.
This past weekend’s series against Mississippi State marked the last regular-season series at Cliff Hagan Stadium, a facility that originally opened as the Bernie A. Shively Sports Center in 1969 and was later renovated at several points over the years. Kentucky baseball is preparing to move into a new ballpark, effectively ending a decades-long run at Cliff Hagan Stadium.
Cliff Hagan Stadium’s ability to accommodate Kentucky baseball for decades, even as the college baseball facilities landscape became increasingly competitive, owes something to its evolution. Upon taking over as the program’s head coach in 1979, Keith Madison helped transform what had been a very basic facility into a more functional college ballpark. That effort continued throughout Madison’s tenure, which lasted through the 2003 season, and helped extend the facility’s run. More from the Courier-Journal:
“Even though I do get emotional when I think about this place being gone, the memories of all the really special young men that came through here are still going to be very much alive,” Madison said.
When Madison was hired in 1979, what was then called Bernie A. Shivley Sports Center had three rows of bleachers and chain-link fencing. The press box was a 12-by-20 cinderblock structure near the first-base dugout with seating for about four people.
There was no grounds crew, so Madison and his staff maintained the playing surface along with their coaching and recruiting duties.
Madison became a money man, too. He met with local businesspeople and created relationships necessary to raise funds for enhancements in the 1980s and major renovations in 1990 and 2002.
With the baseball program moving into a more modern home, Kentucky is making plans for the site of Cliff Hagan Stadium. It is expected to demolish the ballpark, and clear the way for a new tennis facility. However, Cliff Hagan Stadium has left a legacy that saw it grow to meet the needs of Kentucky’s baseball program, and ultimately position it for a future that includes a modern college ballpark.
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