ALLEGANY, N.Y. – Ground has been broken for the new $900,000 baseball complex at St. Bonaventure University.
The new complex will be named after former coach Fred Handler (whose photo appears to the right). Beginning in the 2006-07 academic year, the University’s baseball facility will be called “Fred Handler Park at McGraw-Jennings Field.”
Fred Handler coached the Bonnies for 21 seasons, from 1959-81, and oversaw the program’s elevation from a club sport to varsity status.
The naming is a part of a major renovation of the baseball complex. The field is being converted from natural grass to an artificial surface, and new dugouts and fencing are being added to the facility.
Thomas Marra, a 1980 alumnus who played baseball under Handler and is a member of the SBU board of trustees, donated $900,000 to the Anniversary Campaign for St. Bonaventure, which was earmarked for the baseball program.
“It is only fitting that this field be named after Coach Handler. He has been a great friend and mentor to so many of us,” Marra said. “Next to (current) Coach Larry Sudbrook, he has probably spent more time on this field than anyone.”
“I’m humbled to receive this honor,” said Handler, who remains a resident of Allegany. “I still have many fond memories of the countless hours spent on the field at Bonas. Not only did I coach a lot of fine players but, more importantly, I met and still keep in touch with a lot of great young men, men like Tom Marra.”
Handler also was an assistant basketball coach at St. Bonaventure for 10 years, 1960-70, and served as a professor of physical education from 1959 until his retirement in 1997. He was chair of the Department of Physical Education from 1985-97.
McGraw-Jennings Field has been home to the baseball team since 1958. It was formally dedicated on Oct. 11, 1958, and is named for John McGraw and Hugh Jennings, who coached baseball at St. Bonaventure between 1892 and 1895, as well as attended the university during the off-seasons of their professional baseball careers. Both McGraw and Jennings are members of the Baseball Hall of Fame.