Though Cal Poly is known for its agriculture production and fields of fresh fruits and vegetables, there are fields on campus that can sometimes be forgotten – the sports fields. While strawberries are nice, they pale in comparison to the feeling of watching a ball game, peanuts in hand, cheering for the home team.
This luxury is now afforded to Cal Poly sports fans since the completion of the sports complex in 2001 that allowed students and community members to take in a game right on campus – something that wasn’t always available.
The 47-acre complex comprised of Baggett Stadium for baseball, Bob Janssen Field for softball and seven competition fields for soccer and football, granted a much-needed renewal to the Cal Poly sports program seven years ago, and now teams and fans alike are reaping the benefits.
Prior to the opening of Baggett Stadium, the baseball team had not played on campus for almost 30 years. Instead, it utilized Sinsheimer Park, a city-owned facility that never stacked up to the offerings of the new diamond, according to current head baseball coach Larry Lee, who felt there was a lot of wear and tear at Sinsheimer due to high school teams using the same field for games.
“The stadium has given us an opportunity to practice and play in the same facility, whereas before they used to practice on a very run-down baseball diamond where the new engineering buildings are that had very odd dimensions in the outfield,” Lee says. “Then they would have to travel across town to get to their games. Just having everything in one location and to have the field in good condition means a great deal.”
In addition to a quality field, the stadium provides on-site locker rooms, showers and staff offices. The facility seats 1,734 people, bringing with it a great deal of fan support that was not as prevalent when games were held off campus, Lee says.
Also basking in the benefits of a larger stadium is the Cal Poly softball team, also with more than a 1,000-capacity facility offering amenities such as concession stands, practice areas, enclosed batting cages and an on-site locker room – many of which were not available in the team’s previous space.
Though the softball team had two useable fields prior to the construction of the new facilities, neither of them compared to Bob Janssen Field, says current head coach Jenny Condon.
“I think the field has been a tremendous asset,” Condon says. “It’s a great place to play, its location is beautiful and it’s one of the top facilities in the country. We won our first conference championship at home last year playing on our own field, and probably every record in the book has been broken since we started playing here,” she says.
The fields have also served as helpful selling points when bringing in recruits.
“I think it’s made a huge impact on the success of the program,” Condon says. “I don’t think it would be nearly as successful without it. It’s hard to sell a recruit on a great academic institution with a facility that is not comparable; here at Cal Poly we have a great facility and great academics.”
Both fields were named after valuable members of the Cal Poly community, and are connected by the Ozzie Smith Plaza.
Smith played for the San Diego Padres (1978-81) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1982-96), and was the sole 2002 inductee into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. During his time at Cal Poly he was a four-year starter at shortstop, and was a three-time all-conference selection, breaking many records along the way.
Robin Baggett is considered one of the best catchers in the baseball program’s history as a two-time all-conference representative and Most Valuable Player, and Bob Janssen was a local patron and sports enthusiast who held a lifelong commitment to the support of youth in sports along the Central Coast.