Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls baseball team bidding farewell to Red McEwen Field

Red McEwen Field has had touch-ups but coach Lelo Prado says a new one is “something that we’ve needed to do for a long, long time.”

University of South Florida

Red McEwen Field has had touch-ups but coach Lelo Prado says a new one is “something that we’ve needed to do for a long, long time.”

TAMPA — Before the Big East, before even the NCAA, before football and basketball came to USF's campus, there was a dusty baseball field with a chain-link fence the Bulls called home.

Related News/Archive

"That first time, we felt like we were walking into Yankee Stadium," said Marvin Sherzer, ace right-hander for the Bulls from 1966-69, who remembers USF wearing blue pinstripes, before the current days of green and gold.

For the past 43 years, it has been the home of USF baseball, the last 33 as Red McEwen Field. But this weekend, the Bulls will play their final series at the Red, hosting Connecticut as a farewell before a new stadium is constructed just down the rightfield line.

"It's something that we've needed to do for a long, long time," USF coach Lelo Prado said. "You've got to have it if you're going to make a run at things. You're sad to see something go, but I'm glad it's going to happen."

In truth, baseball was never king on USF's campus. In 1967, when the Bulls moved into the stadium, soccer and swimming were the big sports. Players proudly remember modest crowds in the single set of bleachers that sat behind home plate.

"If we got 50 fans, we were fortunate," said John Jolinski, 63, a centerfielder who now lives in Orlando. "We got the girlfriends and parents that cheered for you, but we didn't get many spectators. The grass was crabgrass, the wind was really bad, but the camaraderie was great. You were playing for the enjoyment of the game."

USF's attitude toward intercollegiate athletics was much more adversarial then — the university did not allow games during the week, and road trips were capped at 48 hours. USF was not a member of the NCAA, and the school's president, John Stuart Allen, explained why not.

"They just police the games, and why should we pay the expense just to follow the rules," he told the St. Petersburg Times in 1968. "Besides, we can't win national championships if we just play on Saturdays."

It was five years before the Bulls played a game outside Florida, a full decade before Yankees owner George Steinbrenner donated lights to allow for night games. It was renamed in 1977 for James "Red" McEwen, a former Hillsborough County state attorney and civic leader. Prior to his death in 1976, McEwen, brother of former Tampa Tribune sports editor Tom McEwen, had worked extensively to establish and promote USF.

"It was just the beginning," Steve Bledsoe, 61, an infielder in 1967 who works for the State Attorney's Office in Jacksonville, said of the field.

Phillies ace and Hall of Famer Robin Roberts, who died last week, coached the Bulls there for nine seasons from 1977-85. The Florida State League's Tampa Yankees called the Red home in 1994-95 while Steinbrenner Field was being built, with Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera among those who played there.

The stadium has seen modest upgrades in its 43 years — more stands, a press box, concessions — but nothing like what the Bulls will have next spring, with a stadium estimated at $8 million, with 2,000 seatbacks and up to 4,000 capacity for tournaments.

As they bid farewell to Red McEwen Field — the school has invited all former players back for Saturday's game — the new stadium is a source of excitement, with the hopes that better facilities can help the Bulls in recruiting, elevating a program that hasn't been to the NCAA Tournament since 2002.

"We don't need the biggest in the state. We just need a nice one," said Prado, who saw the impact of a new stadium as coach at Louisville in 2005. "I know our guys are excited."

USF (22-27, 13-8 Big East), limited by injuries and inconsistency all season, is fifth in the league with six games left. Prado is optimistic a strong finish can build momentum heading into the Big East tournament, May 26-30 at Clearwater's Bright House Field.

"I'm just hoping we can do something to get them started and see if we can make a little run," he said.

Times staff writer Greg Auman can be reached at

. If you go

USF baseball

vs. Connecticut

7 p.m. today and Saturday,

1 p.m. Sunday

Tickets: $6 adults, $3 for ages 65 and older

USF Bulls baseball team bidding farewell to Red McEwen Field 05/13/10 [Last modified: Thursday, May 13, 2010 10:30pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing


    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]
  2. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Tampa Bay Rays third base coach Charlie Montoyo (25) high fives designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) as he rounds third on his lead off home run in the first inning of the game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Angels at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Monday, May 22, 2017.
  3. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Monday's Rays-Angels game

    The Heater

    OF/DH Corey Dickerson missed out on a good birthday gift when AL player of the week honors went instead to Detroit's J.D. Martinez. Dickerson hit .385 with five homers, nine RBIs and nine runs; Martinez went .389-4-9-7 and got the nod.

  4. Rays journal: Alex Cobb learning to work with what he has



    If this were 2012 or 2013, even 2014, RHP Alex Cobb would have problems. He would find himself working with only two of his three pitches, with the missing pitch being his trusty changeup.

    Alex Cobb, working mainly with his fastball and curveball, is 3-1 with a 2.78 ERA over his past five starts. The Rays right-hander tries to continue his strong stretch tonight against the Angels.
  5. Rays vs. Angels, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Angels

    7:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    PORT CHARLOTTE, FL - FEBRUARY 18:  Alex Cobb #53 of the Tampa Bay Rays poses for a portrait during the Tampa Bay Rays photo day on February 18, 2017 at Charlotte Sports Park in Port Charlotte, Floida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)