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Baseball raises more than $660,000 for new stadium

February 2, 2006 · MT Media Relations

More than $660,000 was donated Thursday with former Blue Raider pitcher Steve Smith giving $300,000, former Blue Raider pitcher and current San Diego Padre Dewon Brazelton giving $250,000, community leader Howard Wall giving $100,000, and baseball coach Steve Peterson donating $10,000.

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    Following are quotes from Thursday's press conference regarding the building of a new $5 million baseball stadium, expected to be completed for the 2008 season.

    Steve Peterson
    Middle Tennessee Baseball Coach
    You seem very excited about the happenings of today:

    "It's baseball and I get excited about baseball every day. We are making baseball on this campus and when you make baseball better you make the campus better, the community better, the players better and the people sitting in the stands better so it is a no-brainer. If you are looking for a charity and to donate some money, the Blue Raider baseball building fund is where it's happening."

    Your program has been close to reaching the College World Series. Will this put you over the top?
    "I think it give you more opportunities. Pitching is the name of the game and we always have run out of pitching so maybe that pitcher I lost to someone else that won that last game, maybe having that stadium will tell that recruit our administration, from the president, to the athletics director all the way down to me, wants to have good baseball. Instead of talking about it, it's show and tell."

    On former pitcher Dewon Brazelton's $250,000 gift
    "It's unbelievable, it's humbling. It's something he doesn't have to do but he wants to do. He got on a airplane and flew here to be part of this. When our baseball alum ask what (Brazelton) is doing, well he answered the question, he's leading the pack. Everybody can't do what he did but he stepped forward and spoke from his heart. He feels good about it and it's what he wanted to do. It speaks a lot for what Middle Tennessee does for its graduates."

    Dewon Brazelton
    Former Blue Raider pitcher and current San Diego Padre
    Talk about your $250,000 gift to the baseball building fund
    "This was important to me because I believe this baseball program was the first stepping stone in what made me what I am today. I believe coach Pete, coach (Jim) McGuire and coach (Mike) McLaury do a great job of developing young people into men and getting a new stadium will help them. More than baseball, they develop good young men. They are good people. You never hear of people coming out of program getting into trouble and that's because coach Pete teaches discipline so I would recommend Middle Tennessee to any young kid anywhere in the country."

    On Middle Tennessee baseball
    "This wasn't just about baseball, it was about getting people in here because coach Pete and coach McGuire are good mentors for young people. More than just baseball, these guys are good for young people and this may help."

    What made you want to give so much back to Middle Tennessee baseball
    "It's always important because you want to do for people who have done for you. In 1998 I wasn't a sure thing. Coach Pete and Middle Tennessee took a chance on me and gave me a full scholarship which, more than baseball, giving me room and board and food to eat was a big thing in my life at that point. I took that and ran with it and became a Major League baseball player. I would not be where I am today without Middle Tennessee baseball."

    Chris Massaro
    Middle Tennessee Director of Athletics
    On Middle Tennessee's baseball program
    "Baseball is one of our sports that we have a chance to compete nationally right away. We have great tradition and we have great leadership. What we don't have is a great facility, and that's what we are changing. If you look nationally at who has been going to the World Series and who has been winning the World Series, its schools that are not necessarily from the top six conferences. Cal-Fullerton has been awfully tough, Rice has won it recently. This is a window of opportunity for coaches such as the Sun Belt to push through. Louisiana-Lafayette has been in the World Series in the 2000s so there is no reason in the world why Middle Tennessee can't compete on a national basis. We have great tradition and we have great high school baseball. There is no better place in the country for high school baseball so what we are missing is a great facility. We have to make sure we have to put the elements in place."

    Talk about the head start you received in terms of today's donations (which totaled more than $660,000
    "We had a great day with some of the gifts we received and people making an investment in our program. I think a lot of people will benefit by a great baseball program - the town of Murfreesboro, the University, the county, the whole region. We will bring in fans and we will bring in tournaments."

    "Two of our lead gifts today were from former players and that tells you a lot about how people feel about this great university. For me, as a relative newcomer coming in, it excited me beyond belief that this program has this kind of love from its former players."

    Steve Smith
    Former Blue Raider pitcher and chair of capital campaign committee
    On the fact two of the largest gifts were from former players
    "They do more here than coach baseball. If I had been judged on baseball alone then I probably would not have had very high marks. I think what it says is that the people they have trained love them and want to help them. That may sound mushy but it's that simple."

    How much of a head start does this give Middle Tennessee in the capital campaign project?
    "We still have a lot of work to do. It's fun to see all the excitement. It's fun to see Dewon step up, and Howard Wall step up. Maybe the most fun was to see Pete step up. His gift may have been the most important because you have to be sold on what you are selling. It's going to be a boost to the entire athletic department. It is going to be the most money that has ever been raised in athletics and my guess is today you probably saw the second, third and fourth biggest gifts in Middle Tennessee history for athletics because Mr. (Emmett) Kennon obviously won the prize. I prefer to stay under the radar but I didn't think I was able to do that when we are doing something like this."

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