Penn baseball receives major gift honoring local native and Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda

Penn baseball receives major donation
The University of Pennsylvania announced on Wednesday the receipt of a gift of more than $2,000,000 from alum Warren Lichtenstein to help fund significant upgrades to their baseball facility, including a new playing surface that will be known as Tommy Lasorda Field at Meiklejohn Stadium.

"We are incredibly grateful for Warren's generosity in honor of his dear friend Tommy Lasorda," said Dr. M Grace Calhoun, Director of Athletics and Recreation.

Supporters of the Penn baseball program can donate to the renovation costs with Lichtenstein matching dollar-for-dollar any contribution to the stadium project up to $2,050,000.

"Once Warren's gift is matched, we will be able to upgrade the baseball facility to include artificial turf and enhance the student-athlete and fan experience in a number of ways to help us compete for Ivy League championships," Calhoun said. "We are confident that our alumni community, and the greater baseball community, will step up to the plate to improve our student-athlete experience and honor Mr. Lasorda."

Lasorda, a Norristown native, led the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 and was a two-time National League Manager of the Year. He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1997 and led the United States to gold at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia.

"I am honored to have a baseball field named after me in my home state of Pennsylvania and at the University of Pennsylvania," Lasorda said in a statement. "I am most thankful to my great friend, Warren Lichtenstein, and everyone at the University of Pennsylvania, for this unbelievable tribute and honor."

Upgrades in the first phase of construction include a brand new fully turfed field, renovated dugouts, a re-orientation of the field, updated protective netting at the field, and a permanent restroom facility.

"I want to thank Warren for his generosity and invaluable contribution to the Penn baseball program," said Penn head coach John Yurkow. "Current and future teams will be positively impacted by these enhancements, which will serve a key role in player development moving forward. Tommy has touched countless players and coaches throughout his impressive career, and I am honored that our field will be named after such a pivotal figure in the baseball community. I'm excited to see the positive momentum of the program continue and this gift will help to solidify Penn as a top team in the region."

Penn's current baseball stadium opened in 2000 and is named after William Meiklejohn, a 1942 graduate of the Wharton School, who supported the baseball program with a donation in 2005 of $10 million.

Since 1967, Penn has had more than 20 players selected in the annual Major League Baseball draft. Catcher Matt O'Neill is the most recent Penn product to be taken in the draft, having been chosen by the New York Mets in the 20th round last year.

The most recent Penn alumni to play in the majors is infielder Mark DeRosa who spent 16 seasons in the bigs, retiring following the 2013 season.

The Quakers played just eight games in the spring before COVID-19 forced the abandonment of the 2020 college baseball season. The club finished 23-18 the year before, touting one of the best offensive lineups in the country.
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BY PATRICK GORDON
Managing Editor
pgordon@philadelphiabaseballreview.com

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