In 2007, the University of Wisconsin-Platteville Pioneers began play on the new Kendall Murray Field, the first baseball-only complex for UW-Platteville.
The field, which drops four feet from ground level to give it a stadium feel, features dimensions of 330 feet down the lines, 375 to the power alleys and 400 feet to center. A blue wind screen in the outfield is topped by orange fence caps, giving the facility a striking appearance in the Pioneers' school colors.
The field also features a turf halo with “Pioneers” spelled out around home plate, large dugouts, and bullpens to accommodate five pitchers throwing at the same time. Instead of fencing, the facility has seamless netting as the backdrop, ensuring a great view for the fans.
The Pioneers’ first game came March 27, when UW-Platteville routed the University of Dubuque 16-3. The field was officially dedicated on April 21.
The field's namesake, Kendall Murray, still holds UW-Platteville’s career strikeout record, but that is not why the Pioneers’ home is named after the former Cuba City native.
"It's really an honor," his mother Nancy said before the 2007 dedication. "There was something special about Kendall. I can't put my finger on it, and I know I'm his mother, but he was always a special person."
|Kendall Murray Field||Firsts (Mar. 27, 2007)|
|Pitch||Joe Lange, UW-Platteville|
|Hit||Alex Martinez, Dubuque|
|UW-Platteville Hit||Mike Kuhn, a 2-run single|
|Home Run||Mike Kuhn, UW-Platteville|
On the field, there was certainly something about him. He set the Pioneer career record with 171 strikeouts, despite the fact the team only played an average of 19 games per season during 1972 through 1975.
"He was a standout pitcher in high school and he did a good job for us," said then-Pioneer Coach Dale Fatzinger, whose recruiting letter in 1971 is still kept by the Murray family in their Cuba City home. "He certainly helped our pitching staff. I saw a lot of
good pitchers during my tenure, and he was one of the best. Plus he was a real nice kid."
Murray attracted a crowd whenever he pitched, including most of his Lambda Sigma Pi fraternity.
"People just liked to be around him," said Tom Evans, a fraternity brother. "He never took himself or life too seriously. He was one of those rare people who could be serious and focused during the game but could laugh and smile at the drop of a hat. He could give up a home run and turn around and say, 'boy that got out of here in a hurry' then turn around and be totally focused. That's a rarity in an athlete."
Kendall Murray majored in safety education and minored in coaching. The day of the automobile accident that took his life, he received his confirmation to student teach in Mineral Point, where he would have coached as well. Murray had worked with the Cuba City youth baseball program, and was anxious to begin coaching.
"He loved working with kids, teaching baseball," his father, Pat, said. “He just loved baseball. I see a lot of kids dedicated to baseball, but I've never seen anyone as dedicated as Kendall."
The Pioneers played 29 years on the original Kendall Murray
Field, which closed in 2005.