Why not a baseball team at SMU? Sure, there is the whole financing of a program, building a stadium and other logistical issues such as these. But, I can think of far more reasons to re-start a baseball program on the Hilltop than not to re-start one.
The SMU Baseball program was dropped after the 1980 season after competing for 61 years and garnering a less than spectacular record in those six decades. At least then we shut down our athletic programs that were not any good, unlike, say, the men’s track and field team.
The SMU Athletic Department told me that the baseball program was shut down for financial reasons.
Obviously, me writing this article is not going to convince the athletic department and the Board of Trustees to decide to spend the money to bring the team back, but I do want to give my reasons for why there should be a team here.
The first and probably most important reason this school should have a baseball program is because, like it or not, baseball is America’s game. The sport has twice the tradition and history of any of the other major sports in this country. Lots of people will try and tell you that they hate baseball because it is “boring.” Well, the sport has almost 150 years of history, and doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
I believe that behind football and men’s basketball, a baseball team could easily be the No. 3 revenue-producing sport at SMU. And, I think all of us students can agree that nothing excites the SMU administration more than money, as evidenced by the $250 parking passes and the increasing tuition rates that double the national inflation rate.
SMU fans have no teams to really cheer on after the basketball team makes its usually early exit from the conference tournament every year in March.
What better way to spend a beautiful spring day in North Texas than eating a bag of sunflower seeds, soaking in the sun’s rays and being social at the ballpark? SMU is a very social campus, and baseball is a very social game – it’s almost too perfect.
One might wonder if SMU would be able to attract the type of talent needed to compete at the highest level for baseball.
The answer is an emphatic yes. Texas is a great baseball state, and private schools do well here. Currently Rice, Texas, Baylor and TCU are all in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper Top 30 poll, with Texas being the preseason No. 1 team.
Also, three of the past four National Champions in college baseball have been from the state of Texas, with the Longhorns winning in 2002 and 2005 and the Rice Owls winning in 2003.
Along with having competitive teams in the area, there are four fellow Conference USA s chools that have strong baseball programs in Tulane, Southern Mississippi, Houston and Rice. With these local schools having success finding recruits from the area, I can assume that SMU would have no problem doing the same.
People make this same argument for football. Because there are so many good players in Dallas area high schools, SMU should be able to have great recruiting classes. But, the fact of the matter is the best football players in this state will always go to Texas, Oklahoma or Texas A&M, because those schools give players a chance to win a championship.
Winning a national championship at schools like SMU, TCU or Rice doesn’t seem possible in football.
But, baseball is just the opposite. A team can rely on one or two great pitchers to take them all the way to Omaha, perennial site of the College World Series. This is how a school like Rice was able to win it all in 2003.
Just from casually talking to students around campus, one can tell there would be serious interest from the student body. An example of this sentiment comes from sophomore SMU student and baseball fan Johnny Newbern.
“I think it’s not only stupid but wrong that we do not have a baseball team at SMU,” he said. “I look around and see other successful programs in the state of Texas and wonder why don’t we have one here?”
People who argue that the greater Dallas community outside of “the bubble” would not embrace a team at SMU because of the Texas Rangers should think about that issue a little harder.
Had the city of Dallas had its priorities right in the early 1990s, the Rangers would have built their new ballpark in or near Downtown Dallas. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, and the team built the Ballpark near the old one in Arlington.
I, for one, don’t go to more than three or four games a year, and I love baseball, so my guess is the casual fan doesn’t go at all. The drive out to Arlington is flat-out brutal, and there is always terrible traffic and construction on I-30.
SMU could build a stadium in its newest vacant real estate location, the Jack’s Pub lot. That area, along with the dilapidated movie theater nearby, would be just big enough for a decent-size park.
I think that the park could be partially funded by a corporate naming sponsor. Polo Park and Beamer Field seem like logical choices, but my favorite, Uggz Stadium.