SACRAMENTO, Calif. - History will be made when the Sacramento State baseball team plays its first ever night game at John Smith Field next Tuesday, May 17, at 7:11 p.m. After years of planning Sacramento State's on campus home had lights installed over the last few months and they were cleared for use next Tuesday against Pacific.
"It's an exciting day for the program," Sacramento State head coach Reggie Christiansen said. "A lot of years of hard work were put into this before I got here to make this day become a reality. Credit goes Coach Smith, President Nelsen, and the former players that got us to this point as a program and I'm looking forward to next Tuesday night."
Built in 1953 and originally known as Hornet Field until being renamed in honor of long time coach John Smith in 2010, the Hornets have enjoyed great success on their home field with an all-time Div. I record of 423-360-2. Smith, who now serves as a Special Assistant to the Athletics Director and oversaw the installation of the lights, has been a part of the Hornet baseball program since playing for former coach Cal Boyes starting in 1971.
"I'm sure there's going to be a tear in my eye and I will feel a sense of completion," Smith said about the first game under the lights. "I would have loved the opportunity to coach under the lights here on campus but time goes on and the program goes on. Reggie has done a great job taking the program to higher levels and the lights will help us continue to move in a positive direction. I'm excited and it will make it a lot easier for everybody in town to see the Hornets play."
Midweek day games have been a challenge to schedule around student-athlete's academic schedules and have precluded many fans from attending those games during typical working hours. The lights will not only alleviate this but will also allow the team to potentially host NCAA Tournament games and prepare the squad for road games away from Sacramento.
"This was a process two years in the making starting with President Gonzalez and now President Nelsen," Sacramento State Director of Athletics Bill Macriss said. "We're excited it will allow more of our fans to attend Hornet games. From a student welfare standpoint, being able to practice and play in the evenings and not having to miss class is huge. We're excited about what this means for the student experience here at Sacramento State.
"I'm also really excited for the alums, former coaches, and players who have been a part of this program. A lot of them haven't been able to come to afternoon weekday games and for them to be able to return and enjoy the program they've helped build is going to be great. Its an exciting day for our alumni, for the University, and for Sacramento State Athletics."
All former Hornet baseball players and their families will receive free admission to next Tuesday's first home game under the lights, which will be presented by 7-Eleven. All fans can purchase two tickets to the game for just $10 while the first 500 fans through the gates will receive free commemorative key chain lights and the first 711 fans will get free surprises at the Campus 7-Eleven at 6500 Folsom Blvd.
Gates will open at 5:30 and fans are encouraged to arrive at the ball park early when Christiansen, Smith, and Boyes will ceremonially turn on the lights for the first time at 6:50 p.m. Sacramento State President Robert Nelsen will throw out the first pitch.
John Smith Field is located just south of Parking Structure 1 along College Town Drive. Parking will be free on the top floor and in all other student parking spaces in Parking Structure 1 starting at 5:30 p.m. For access to the lot turn on to Sinclair Road from College Town Drive for the entrance to the student parking area.
Sacramento State also announced that the first two games of the series against Seattle U, scheduled for May 19 and 20, will be night games as well with first pitch at 7:00 p.m. The regular season finale on Saturday, May 21, will have a noon start time.