Samford University will upgrade its baseball facility and rename it Joe Lee Griffin Field in memory of the late Birmingham business leader and builder of Eagle Point Golf Course.
Friends of Griffin, led by businessman Carl E. Miller, Jr., have raised more than $850,000 to perpetuate the memory of Griffin, who died last August. Griffin and Miller both graduated from Samford.
The project will add lights, a press box, landscaping, create a new entranceway and enclose the entire seating area in Georgian Colonial architecture. Samford held formal groundbreaking ceremonies May 18. Construction will begin this summer and be completed in time for Samford’s 2000 baseball season.
Miller and his son, businessman Carl E. "Eddie" Miller III, began the effort to honor Griffin’s memory last fall. The response has been "extremely gratifying," said Carl, Jr., his longtime friend.
"People want to be a part of remembering Joe Lee," he said. "They remember him as a man who spoke from the heart, a true Golden Rule fellow. I have heard many people over the years describe him as ‘one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met’."
Griffin was a 1957 Samford graduate and the Number One player on the school’s first intercollegiate golf team. He contributed to various programs at the University over the years, and was honored in 1984 as the Samford School of Business Alumnus of the Year.
A Tarrant native, Griffin developed a highly successful welding supply and safety business, NASCO. During the early 1990s, he built Eagle Point Golf Course.
"Joe got into the golf business out of a love for the game," said Miller. "He caddied for his father at Roebuck Golf Course as a 10-year old kid and learned to play the game as a teen-ager. Joe Lee was a great friend of golf."
Griffin "loved athletics, and loved attending athletic events at Samford," said his daughter, Ginger Burkett. "He was proud to be a graduate of Samford."