Theunissen to be dedicated

Chris McCarty

From a sandlot on Preston Street to a state-of-the-art stadium across town, the CMU baseball team has moved up.

Central Michigan University will formally dedicate “new” Theunissen Stadium Saturday during the Chippewas doubleheader against Northern Illinois. The event will mark the dedication of the stadium in the name of former Head Coach Bill Theunissen.

“People want to come out to the ballpark and have a good time, and I think that when people come out to this new park, that is what they’ll get,” said American Baseball Association Executive Director Dave Keilitz .

“The new park is definitely in the best interest of CMU baseball.”

CMU baseball moved March 29 into the new facilities, which include the Dave and Sue Keilitz clubhouse and expanded press facilities and seating.

CMU baseball ended its run at the old Theunissen Stadium with the winningest record in the Midwest for the year that the Chippewas played at the old park, where the new Health Professions Building is being built.

The new stadium has many modern amenities, but it still lacks the feel of home for much of the history steeped in CMU baseball.

“Some of the current players feel like the stadium is home and some of the juniors and seniors might need to get used to it. But for some of the older players it is definitely going to take a little longer to get used to,” Keilitz said. “Tradition takes time to build.”

Keilitz was a player and coach before being named athletic director. He oversaw many of the improvements to the old park and he was on the panel that decided the design elements on the new fieled.

“Herb Deromedi was real nice about including me in the process. He first told me about the plans when we were meeting over coffee,” Keilitz said. “It was really nice of them to allow me to be involved in the process of the new stadium.”

Keilitz was voted the fan of the year for the 2002 season and will be one of the featured speakers at the dedication. With events scheduled to begin at 12:40 p.m., speakers will feature Board of Trustees Chair William Johnson, Athletics Director Herb Deromedi, University President Michael Rao and Theunissen.

“For me, Bill Theunissen has always been the grandfather of CMU baseball. I know Coach (Dan) Rose had a lot of success before Coach Theunissen, but for me it was Bill Theunissen that started a lot of the tradition,” Keilitz said.

Also in attendance at the game will be more than 300 former CMU baseball players, including World Series champion Kevin Tapani.

The players all will be honored during the break between games in Saturday’s double header.

“It’s great that the players want to come back and that they wanted to donate money to the stadium,” Keilitz said.

“It shows that they’re proud of CMU baseball and proud of the traditions and experiences they had here.”