Long-time Samford University faculty member and former coach John T. Haywood Jr. will be honored with the naming of a new baseball/softball facility being constructed on the Samford campus. The university’s board of trustees recently approved the naming and gave official go-ahead for the construction project Aug. 2.
Haywood’s name will be the new John T. Haywood, Jr., Baseball/Softball Field House that includes indoor hitting facilities. Eventually it also will include locker rooms and coaches’ areas when additional funding is secured. It will be located between Joe Lee Griffin Field (baseball) and Bulldog Field (softball) where a temporary outdoor batting cage currently is located.
Construction will begin shortly, according to Sarah C. Latham, Samford’s vice president for operations and planning, and should be completed in time for the 2013 seasons. The project is part of the university’s long-range development plan that Samford had filed with the City of Homewood. Fundraising for the project began in 2005, and the university’s trustees approved the project in 2006 with the understanding that construction could begin once funds had been raised. The project is being funded through private donations.
The Haywood facility is part of a larger project that includes a 200-seat softball stadium, re-orientation of the current softball field and a new press tower with concessions and restrooms. Bradford Building Co. of Birmingham is the general contractor for the project.
“We are excited to announce the building of our new indoor hitting and locker room facility for our baseball and softball programs as well as our new softball stadium,” Samford director of athletics Martin Newton said. “These state-of-the-art facilities have been a work in progress, and I’d like to thank all of those who have spent tireless hours and provided funds to make this project happen.”
Haywood is a 1961 Samford graduate and taught on the faculty from 1962 until his retirement in 1995. He revived Samford’s baseball program in the 1980s and served as head coach for five years. He also developed an extensive intramurals program for the university. He was inducted into Samford’s baseball hall of fame in 2007.
“We are also proud to be able to name the indoor hitting and locker room facility after Coach Haywood,” Newton added. “It’s a great way to honor him for all he has done for Samford University and our athletics programs. Building these facilities is vital for both programs as we continue to strive for athletic excellence in all our programs.”
Samford’s softball and baseball head coaches also expressed excitement about what the new facilities will do for their programs.
“Words cannot express my sincere appreciation to everyone involved in the planning and fundraising for the new softball stadium and facility,” Samford head softball coach Mandy Burford said. “Our student-athletes will have the opportunity to practice and compete in one of the premier facilities in the country.”
"This is a project that has been in the works for a long time," head baseball coach Casey Dunn said. "Our players deserve facilities equal to those we compete against. This facility will provide us an area that will allow our guys to work and develop in all conditions. I'm excited for our players that will have the opportunity to use this new facility and am thankful to all those who have worked to make this happen."