EVANSTON, Ill. --- What started as a lofty vision is now considered one of the finest college baseball stadiums in the country.
Northwestern University held a dedication ceremony for the newly renovated Rocky and Berenice Miller Park Sunday, April 3, during Northwestern baseball’s opening weekend.
“Today is a remarkable day for Northwestern baseball,” Vice President for Athletics and Recreation Jim Phillips told a crowd of nearly 150 members of the Wildcats family, calling the new ballpark “an absolute game changer.”
Rocky and Berenice Miller Park and many of its featured amenities are named in honor of Northwestern baseball’s best supporters and other distinguished members of the Northwestern community. Background on each of these individuals and families follows.
Speaking on behalf of his teammates, senior pitcher Jake Stolley ’16 shared his gratitude for the program’s benefactors at the dedication ceremony. “It’s such a humbling opportunity to call this new venue home,” Stolley said. “It’s going to make a profound impact on our program. We’re forever grateful.”
Phillips added, “We are humbled by the leadership of so many throughout the journey to realize this vision and thrilled for the opportunity to celebrate this historic weekend with all who have made this project a reality.”
Northwestern gratefully recognizes the following benefactors for their leadership and support of the extensive renovation of Rocky and Berenice Miller Park. Their generosity ensures a world-class experience for Northwestern student-athletes and the community at large.
Richard and Roxelyn Pepper
The baseball stadium is named for J. Roscoe (Rocky) Miller, who served as Northwestern University president from 1949 to 1970, and his wife, Berenice, in recognition of a gift from their daughter, Roxy Miller Pepper ’53, and her husband, Richard ’53.
Richard and Roxy Pepper, who met as Northwestern undergraduates, are longtime volunteers and benefactors of the University, having led several alumni organizations and their class reunion committee. Roxy served as a member of Northwestern’s Board of Trustees from 1985 to 1989. In 2001, they jointly received Northwestern’s Alumni Medal, the highest honor awarded to alumni of the University.
Martin (Mike) and Patricia Koldyke | Martin Laird and Deirdre Koldyke
The baseball field is named in honor of the Koldyke family and its lasting support of Northwestern baseball. University Trustee Mike Koldyke and his wife, Pat, are the parents of four children, including three Northwestern alumni: Laird ’83, ’89 MBA; Elizabeth ’99 MBA; and Benjamin ’98 MBA. Laird and his wife, Deirdre ’92 MBA, ’01 MS, are also the parents of four children, including alumnus Martin Carleton ’12. Laird played baseball for Northwestern from 1979 to 1983, leading the team in pitching appearances and saves in both 1982 and 1983. He is also a former University trustee and received the Family Business Leader Award from the Kellogg School of Management in 2013.
John and Carrie Hayden
Hayden Clubhouse is named for J. P. Hayden Jr., founder and longtime manager of Midland Baseball, the winningest and most recognized amateur baseball program in the country. The Midland program has produced nearly 100 major leaguers, sent many more to the minor leagues and developed more than 1,000 collegiate players. The clubhouse is named in recognition of a gift from J. P.’s son, John Hayden ’79, and his wife, Carrie, who have been dedicated supporters of Northwestern Athletics for many years.
Eric and Cindy Mogentale
The Mogentale Players’ Lounge is named in recognition of a gift from alumni Eric ’84 and Cindy Mogentale ’84. Eric played baseball for the ‘Cats from 1980 to 1984, including his last three years under coach Ron Wellman, and is still Northwestern baseball’s career home run leader. The Mogentales have been instrumental in rallying support for the park’s recent renovation and, through their giving, honor Eric’s father, whom Eric credits for his love of baseball.
The LaPidus Dugout honors Sidney and Mildred LaPidus in recognition of a gift from their son, Dennis LaPidus ’64. A graduate of the McCormick School of Engineering, Dennis has been a passionate and generous supporter of Northwestern Athletics for many years.
John and Rita Canning
The Canning Family Private Suite is named in honor of John A. Canning Jr. ’07 P, a University trustee and longtime Northwestern supporter, and his family. Part-owner of the Milwaukee Brewers and six Minor League Baseball teams, John has been an avid baseball fan his entire life.
Scott and Erica Myers
The Scott and Erica Myers Bullpen is named in recognition of a gift from Scott ’88 and Erica Myers ’88, ’89 MBA. Scott pitched for the Wildcats in 1985 and 1986 under Ron Wellman. They are the parents of Jake ’16, a Northwestern senior, and have been wonderful supporters of the University for many years.
The University also acknowledges the following members of the Northwestern family and their commitment to the University and the baseball program.
The Harry L. Wells Family
In 1958, Wells Field was dedicated in honor of Harry L. Wells, a trustee, former vice president and business manager at Northwestern. A 1913 graduate of Northwestern, Wells served the University for 20 years before retiring in 1954. Wells’ legacy is further celebrated with the naming of the Harry L. Wells Complex.
Former Northwestern baseball head coach Ron Wellman managed the ‘Cats from 1982 to 1986 and maintains the highest winning percentage in program history. For the past 24 years, he has served as the athletic director at Wake Forest University. In appreciation for the impact he had on their lives, many of Wellman’s former players came together to honor him with the creation of Wellman Way.
Longtime Northwestern baseball coach Paul Stevens served as an assistant for three years and then led the team from 1988 to 2015. During his 28-year tenure as head coach, Stevens accumulated the most wins in program history and saw more than 65 players drafted by a Major League Baseball team or signed to a professional contract. In honor of Coach Stevens’ dedication and commitment to Wildcats baseball, Northwestern is proud to dedicate Paul Stevens Plaza.
Watch the following videos for more on the opening of Rocky and Berenice Miller Park: