FSC Breaks Ground on New Baseball Clubhouse
|Photo by Wayne Koehler|
The Florida Southern College baseball program took a big step forward Monday with a groundbreaking ceremony for the team’s new Jenkins Clubhouse on the grounds of historic Henley Field.
A crowd of more than 150 people were on hand for the occasion, including supporters, officials from the City of Lakeland, and Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Matt Joyce, who played on the Moccasins’ 2005 national championship team.
The 3,500-square-foot clubhouse, which is expected to be finished in time for the 2013 baseball season, will rival many major-league facilities, with a locker room, training room, laundry, and a kitchen. It will be used by the baseball team for its practices and home games.
Lance Niekro, head baseball coach of the Mocs, who have won nine NCAA Division II national baseball championships, said the Jenkins Clubhouse “will improve recruiting more than you can imagine.”
“Our goal is to win national championships, and this is a start,” he said.
A major donation from Lakeland native David Jenkins made the project possible. Jenkins is a son of the late George Jenkins, founder of Publix Super Markets, and an executive member of the ownership group of the Major League Baseball San Francisco Giants. FSC Athletic Director Pete Meyer called Jenkins “a great friend of the College,” and presented him with a Mocs baseball jersey with his name on it.
Joyce, a 2011 American League All-Star, drove over from Tampa for the ceremony. He said FSC stood out among the schools he was recruited to play for and said the clubhouse will help the program build on its past successes.
“It’s only going to get better,” he said.
FSC senior shortstop Kyle Gibbs echoed Joyce’s comments.
“On behalf of all Florida Southern baseball players, present and future, I want to say thanks,” he said, addressing Jenkins. “We are deeply appreciative of your investment in our program.”
In her remarks, FSC President Anne B. Kerr called the clubhouse “a dream come true.”
“We’re honored to name this facility for the Jenkins family. David is a great baseball fan, and he understands the importance of baseball to Florida Southern. It engenders a degree of school pride and gives us visibility nationally,” she said.
Kerr joked that originally the College had approached Jenkins about helping to purchase new laundry equipment.
“We hoped he could help us with a Maytag or two. Little did we know he would help us with something that would rival a pro team’s clubhouse,” she said.
The FSC Moccasins have won nine NCAA Division II national baseball championships, 17 Sunshine State Conference titles, and have sent more than 170 players to professional baseball, including 10 players to the major leagues.
FSC has played at Henley Field, owned by the city, for more than 40 years. It was used as a spring training field by the Detroit Tigers for many years, and a number of baseball Hall of Famers played there, including Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, and Joe DiMaggio.