The Yankees passed along this announcement from Oklahoma…
OKLAHOMA CITY (Sept. 16, 2011) – Oklahoma Christian University will officially dedicate the new Bobby Murcer Indoor Training Facility on Sept. 23, the latest step in the revival of the school’s baseball program.
OC officials and members of Bobby Murcer’s family will gather to celebrate the opening of the $503,000 facility, named after the Oklahoma City native and New York Yankees player and broadcaster, who died in July 2008 at age 62 after battling brain cancer.
Murcer, a five-time All-Star, was one of Oklahoma’s most famous baseball players. He starred at Southeast High School in Oklahoma City before being drafted by the Yankees. He played briefly for the team during the 1965 and 1966 seasons before spending two years in the U.S. Army. He resumed his Major League Baseball career in 1969 and followed another famous Oklahoman, Mickey Mantle, as the Yankees’ starting center fielder. He played for the Yankees through 1974, then spent two years with the San Francisco Giants and 2½ years with the Chicago Cubs before returning to the Yankees midway through the 1979 season. He played with the Yankees until retiring in June 1983. Throughout his career, he was considered one of the Yankees’ most popular players.
He spent more than two decades as a broadcaster for the Yankees, winning three Emmy Awards for live sports coverage. He was inducted into the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 2004.
Although he never attended Oklahoma Christian, Murcer had strong ties with many people associated with the university, as he and his wife, Kay, attended Memorial Road Church of Christ, which is located immediately southwest of the OC campus.
OC dropped baseball after the 2001 season and didn’t again field a team in the sport until 2008. As OC prepared to re-launch the baseball program, university leaders asked Murcer to support their efforts, and he agreed to do so. The university scheduled a gala event early in 2008 involving Murcer, which eventually had to be canceled because of his deteriorating health.
Kent Allen, OC’s vice president for alumni relations, is a former minister at the Memorial Road church and a friend of the Murcer family. He wanted to honor Murcer’s memory in a tangible way on the OC campus, and that idea led to the naming of the new baseball indoor practice facility in honor of Murcer.
“We felt like we needed to give honor to whom honor is due,” Allen said. “In the end, he had developed a keen interest in wanting to bring OC baseball back, even better than before. Here’s a man who drove by the university every day, had seen the importance of bringing baseball back to the university, had developed good relationships with so many people on the campus, had lent his name to a fundraising activity and was one of Oklahoma’s favorite sons. It just made sense to name the facility after him.”
Kay Murcer, who lives in Edmond, supported the decision to name the facility after her husband.
“I feel like my roots are here in Oklahoma and I will keep my heels dug in this area,” she said. “I hope one day, maybe one of our grandkids will attend Oklahoma Christian. I couldn’t think of a better way to honor Bobby.”
Chuck White, OC’s baseball coach, said the university is glad to be able to honor Murcer’s memory, because of what Murcer stood for.
“It’s how he handled himself and how he treated other people,” White said. “He was always very gracious, very humble and very engaging. You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who has a bad word to say about him because he always treated everybody so well. I think that is what drew people to him. He was a very humble individual who never elevated his position because of his profession.”
The Bobby Murcer Indoor Training Facility is located on the northwest corner of the Oklahoma Christian campus, next to Dobson Field, where the Eagles’ baseball team plays its home games. The 12,800-square-foot facility includes 8,000 square feet of workout space, including batting cages. The facility also includes a clubhouse with showers, an athletic training area, a weight training area and laundry facilities.
The lobby of the facility includes photos from Murcer’s playing and broadcasting careers, special wallpaper that depicts various scenes from OC’s baseball history and plaques honoring the 10 Oklahoma Christian players who have received NAIA All-America honors through the years.
At a later date, two seats from old Yankee Stadium – donated by the Yankees – will be displayed in the lobby.
Eighty-seven donors contributed to the project. They will be recognized on a wall in the lobby.