Dudy Noble Field, Polk–DeMent Stadium

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Dudy Noble
Dudy Noble from Right Field.jpg
Full name Dudy Noble Field at Polk–Dement Stadium
Location 145 Lakeview Drive, Starkville, MS, USA
Owner Mississippi State University
Operator Mississippi State University
Surface Tiflawn & Tifway II Bermuda Grass
Capacity 15,000 [1]
Record attendance 15,586 (current NCAA on-campus record)
Field dimensions LF: 330, LC: 376, CF: 390, RC: 374, RF: 326

Dudy Noble Field, Polk–DeMent Stadium, is a baseball facility on the campus of Mississippi State University and is the home of the Bulldogs Baseball Team. DNF-PDS has been the setting of Southeastern Conference Tournaments, NCAA Regional and Super Regional Championships, and it holds the current NCAA on-campus single-game attendance record at 15,586.

History[edit]

The field is named in honor of longtime MSU baseball coach, athletic director and ABCA Hall of Famer C.R. "Dudy" Noble. And on April 27, 1998 the facility was renamed Dudy Noble Field, Polk–DeMent Stadium, honoring another ABCA Hall of Famer, then-retired Bulldog skipper Ron Polk and the late Gordon DeMent, a successful businessman and longtime fan of the Baseball Bulldogs from Indianola, Mississippi.

Mississippi State has been playing baseball at the present stadium site for 40 years, dating back to April 3, 1967 and a 5-3 Mississippi State win over Illinois Wesleyan.

What today stands as one of college baseball's top facilities grew in large part from the labors of Tom D'Armi, chief assistant coach to longtime Bulldog skipper Paul Gregory. When the tin-roofed grandstand and bleachers seating more than 2,000 were moved to the stadium's present site in the mid-1960s, it became D'Armi's task to "build" the new field. The task of hauling in and leveling top soil, planting and nurturing the turf, building the bullpens, placing signs on the outfield fence and planting the cedar trees beyond the outfield fence, fell to D'Armi. The hard work didn't go unrecognized. The field was subsequently honored by the U.S. Groundskeeper's Association as the nation's best maintained athletic field.

In 1971, thanks to the generosity of the late E.B. "Dutch" McCool, a former MSU baseball player and one of the founding fathers of Holiday Inns, Inc., Mississippi State took the lead in the Southeastern Conference with the installation of a lighting system. The advent of night baseball in Starkville helped spur the growth and popularity of Bulldog baseball.

Later, the well-manicured turf was enhanced with the addition of a drainage and sprinkler system. Further additions to the baseball plant included an expanded scoreboard and animation-equipped message center, new batting ranges and the purchase of an infield tarp.

Mississippi State hosted its first SEC Baseball Tournament and NCAA Regional in 1979, setting attendance marks and opening eyes along the way.

The crowds mushroomed further in the 1980s as future Major League stars Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Thigpen helped the 1985 Bulldogs win the SEC championship, host and win another regional championship and earn MSU's second highest national finish, a tie for third place at the NCAA College World Series.

It was apparent that the interest in Bulldog Baseball had easily outgrown its cozy Dudy Noble Field facility.

Two years after that magical 1985 season Mississippi State unveiled the most dramatic advancement for its baseball facilities ever ‹ an impressive $3.5 million project that would give MSU the biggest baseball stadium in the league. The new facility at Dudy Noble Field, built in less than nine months, featured an impressive concrete grandstand structure with 3,700 maroon theater-style seats, a spacious elevated press box, restroom, ticket, souvenir and concession-vending facilities, and a well-appointed 40-locker dressing room and team area. A pair of 1,500-seat bleachers that once overlooked the end zones at MSU's Scott Field were refurbished and put in place along the foul lines, raising seating capacity at Dudy Noble Field to 6,700. The facility was constructed on schedule by W.G. Yates & Sons of Philadelphia, Miss, and the expanded capacity at the stadium helped increase MSU's annual baseball season ticket base to more than 6,000, virtually assuring Mississippi State of a place among national leaders in college baseball attendance every year.

The Bulldog Club, MSU's athletic fund-raising body, shouldered a $2 million bonding program to account for the biggest portion of the project, with the remainder financed by alumni and friends through the sale of $1,000, $500 and $250 chairback seats, honorary deeds to plots of Dudy Noble Field turf, and other general donations.

The expansion became a model for future college baseball facilities and helped ignite a drive to update baseball facilities throughout the SEC.

An additional permanent concession stand was added near the first base entrance to the stadium in 1989, and a year later, the cinder warning track at the outfield fence was extended to completely encircle the playing field. That project, along with the installation of a 6-foot-high (1.8 m) padded outfield fence, was made possible by a donation by former MSU All-American and Major League standout Will Clark.

In 1993, Mississippi State completed the construction of an indoor batting range under the first base grandstand, a sorely-needed addition made possible by a gift from best-selling author John Grisham, an MSU alumnus and an avid fan of Bulldog Baseball. For the book, "Inside Dudy Noble, A Celebration of Mississippi State Baseball", he wrote an introduction about his time at MSU and in the Left Field Lounge.

Mississippi State's baseball home underwent another major change at the turn of the century. In August, 1998, construction got under way on an ambitious project that would add 18 skyboxes and more than 600 additional chairback seats to the already impressive-looking concrete grandstand structure. The project was funded through the sale of the new stadium seats and the leasing of the luxury skyboxes. At completion during the 2000 season, permanent seating capacity at Dudy Noble Field had eclipsed the 7,000 mark.

Still, the improvements, some highly visible and others perhaps not so noticeable, continue at Dudy Noble Field. The infield and portions of the adjoining outfield areas have in recent years been resodded, the infield dirt replaced, and the pitcher's mound rebuilt.

The green padding on the facing of the stadium wall was replaced prior to the 2002 season, and a new flooring material has been installed in both dugouts and the tunnels leading to them. The Bulldog locker room has been completely recarpeted, improved lighting added and new lockers installed, one of many projects funded by the four-year old MSU Dugout Club. Prior to the start of the 2003 season 46-foot (14 m) "major league" foul poles were installed along with a colorful "wall of fame" wind screen on the outfield fence.

Early in the 2004 season a speaker system was added near the concession stand area, while a new state-of-the-art scoreboard/message center was installed in the middle of the season beyond the existing scoreboard.

Also begun during the final week of the 2004 home season was the installation of wrought iron fencing and gates beneath the grandstand.

Additional stadium improvements are on the drawing board, all part of Mississippi State's commitment to maintain Dudy Noble Field, Polk–DeMent Stadium as the consummate collegiate ballpark for players and spectators alike.

In 2007 Dudy Noble held the largest crowd in super regional history of 13,715 in a victory over the Clemson Tigers that sent the Bulldogs to the College World Series in Omaha, NE.

Following the 2008 Season, a new larger Hi-Def video board replaced the 4-year old smaller screen along with a covering for the back of the scoreboard which displays the current year's baseball schedule. Planned renovations for the Summer of 2009 include replacing all the out-dated drainage and pump systems below the field and all grass on the field.

In March 2013, Dudy Noble debuted a new mobile concessions ordering service — http://dawgsnax.com — with in-seat food delivery for fans in the grandstand seating area.[2]

The "Left Field Lounge"[edit]

Dudy Noble Field from Outfield

The aura of Mississippi State baseball at Dudy Noble Field is certainly not confined to the loyal legions in the impressive grandstand, pro-style luxury skyboxes and bleachers. In fact, some of the more highly prized seats at Bulldog Baseball games are found beyond the outfield fence in the "Left Field Lounge". Waiting lists await those in search of one of nearly 75 renewable season parking passes for an assigned position in one of three rows beyond the outfield fence. There, a colorful assortment of pickup trucks, motor homes, and trailers ‹ most equipped with barbecue grills ‹ line the outfield fence, completing a circle of humanity at Dudy Noble Field. What began in the late 1960s as a popular gathering spot for baseball-loving MSU students now forms college baseball's largest tailgate party.

It is truly unique in college baseball, and has enabled the grounds to be named the "#1 place to watch college baseball" and among the "100 things you gotta do before you graduate" by Sports Illustrated.[3] In 2009 the Left Field Lounge was named "the country's best tailgating experience" (among all sports venues) by ESPN Magazine.[4]

Championships[edit]

It has hosted seven Southeastern Conference championship teams, has twice hosted NCAA District III tournaments (1973 and 1974), five SEC tournaments (1979, 1981, 1983, 1988 and 1995), 12 NCAA Regional tournaments (1979, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2013), and a Super Regional in 2007.

Attendance[edit]

SEC weekend games typically draw the largest crowds, giving rise to huge weekend gatherings. Mississippi State currently holds the NCAA record for the largest single game on-campus baseball attendance at 15,586 and the largest SEC crowd for a 3-game weekend series at 39,181. In 2007 versus the Clemson Tigers, MSU had the NCAA's top two all-time highest attended Super Regional games with 12,620 and 13,715 fans.

Mississippi State has all of the top 11 on-campus crowds in the history of college baseball. Overall, DNF-PDS has held 12 crowds over 12,000 and 35 crowds over 10,000.

In 2013, the Bulldogs ranked 4th among Division I baseball programs in attendance, averaging 7,617 per home game.[5]

In 2012, college baseball writer Eric Sorenson ranked the stadium as the best big game atmosphere in Division I baseball.[6]

Top Baseball Crowds at DNF-PDS[edit]

Rank Attendance Opponent Date Record Broken
1 15,586 Mississippi April 12, 2014 NCAA On-Campus Record
2 14,991 Florida April 22, 1989 #2 NCAA On-Campus Record
3 14,562 Auburn April 20, 2013 #3 NCAA On-Campus Record
4 14,378 Louisiana State April 16, 1988 #4 NCAA On-Campus Record
5 13,761 Arkansas April 25, 1992 #5 NCAA On-Campus Record
6 13,715 Clemson June 9, 2007 #6 NCAA On-Campus Record
NCAA Super Regional Single-Game Record
7 13,617 Georgia April 8, 2006 #7 NCAA On-Campus Record
8 13,224 Mississippi April 11, 2014 #8 NCAA On-Campus Record
9 13,123 Mississippi April 15, 2000 #9 NCAA On-Campus Record
10 12,708 Auburn April 24, 1993 #10 NCAA On-Campus Record
11 12,620 Clemson June 8, 2007 #11 NCAA On-Campus Record
#2 NCAA Super Regional Single-Game Record
12 12,360 Georgia April 6, 2002 #13 NCAA On-Campus Record
13 11,763 Auburn April 12, 2003 #16 NCAA On-Campus Record
14 11,496 Florida State May 27, 1990 #19 NCAA On-Campus Record
NCAA Regional Single-Game Record
15 11,201 Florida April 9, 2011 #22 NCAA On-Campus Record
16 11,174 Florida April 13, 1991 #23 NCAA On-Campus Record
17 11,127 South Alabama May 26, 2000 #25 NCAA On-Campus Record
18 11,124 South Alabama June 1, 2013
19 11,102 Central Arkansas May 31, 2013
20 11,089 Tennessee April 17, 2010
21 10,958 Auburn April 9, 2005
22 10,832 Notre Dame May 28, 2000
23 10,688 Washington May 25, 1997
24 10,619 Florida April 17, 2004
25 10,588 North Carolina May 28, 1989
26 10,555 Kentucky April 18, 2009
27 10,382 Florida April 25, 1987
28 10,371 Mississippi April 13, 2014
29 10,351 Tennessee April 21, 2012
30 10,324 Kentucky March 31, 2007
31 10,284 Middle Tennessee St. May 30, 2003
32 10,226 Central Arkansas June 2, 2013
33 10,143 Auburn April 19, 2013
34 10,064 Vanderbilt March 22, 2014
35 10,050 Alabama April 10, 1999

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Dudy Noble Field Ranked Fifth By Rivals.com at mstateathletics.com, URL accessed May 5, 2010. Archived 5/5/10
  2. ^ http://www.hailstate.com/ViewArticle.dbml?DB_OEM_ID=16800&ATCLID=206654961
  3. ^ http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2003/sioncampus/09/24/100_things0930/index.html
  4. ^ http://www.zinio.com/express3?issue=365161852&o=int&prev=si&pg=seo&p=61
  5. ^ Cutler, Tami (June 11, 2013). "2013 Division I Baseball Attendance - Final Report". Sportswriters.net. NCBWA. Archived from the original on July 20, 2013. Retrieved July 20, 2013. 
  6. ^ Sorenson, Eric (5 October 2012). "Distiller's Dozen - The "Hey, Nice Stadium" Edition". CollegeBaseballToday.com. Archived from the original on 14 December 2012. Retrieved 14 December 2012. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°27′46″N 88°47′40″W / 33.46278°N 88.79444°W / 33.46278; -88.79444