UT: Honor a Great Man’s Name

The Bob Martinez Center. Pepin Stadium. The University of Tampa Baseball Field?

Nearly every building on this campus has a sponsored name. Except the baseball field. It used to be the Sam Bailey Baseball Stadium, but since the upgrades and expansion, no name adorns the entrance to the stadium.

Not all sports venues are named for sponsors who pay enormous amounts of money to get their names on the building. Rupp Arena, Coach K Court, Bobby Bowden Field and more are examples of venues honoring coaches and prominent figures on campus.

Baseball coaches have come and gone at UT. Perhaps now is the time to honor a great spirit at UT, a man who has overcome great adversity in his life and dedicated countless hours to the improvement of the facilities.

Walter Gibbons, a member of the Negro League Hall of Fame, is a fixture around the Martinez Center and athletic facilities.

It has a nice ring to it. Walter Gibbons Field. Maybe visitors would ask questions. What administrator wouldn’t like to say, “We honor a great man, a free spirit who overcame great adversity and served the University with valor for many years.”

He hasn’t made huge cash donations to the University. What he has given is the spirit of defiance for social and political norms. While Jackie Robinson was honored last week in Major League Baseball, Gibbons’ contributions have gone largely unnoticed around here.

Gibbons was forced to leave the game too early. He was taken in his prime and forced to serve in the Korean War. It would be an honor to name the baseball stadium after him.

Former Minaret sports editor Cary Bogue wrote a letter to the editor recently suggesting that UT honor basketball coach Richard Schmidt by naming the court for him. Schmidt has given 23 years of his time and dedication to create a basketball program at UT.

Richard Schmidt Court at the Bob Martinez Center. It is one of many ways to give respect to the man who gave up his career at Division I Vanderbilt to turn UT into a D-I school. It never happened due to administrative cutbacks.

UT can do so much better than selling the naming rights to its renovated venue. Gil Swalls, assistant athletic director, said last week that the process to find a sponsor for the baseball stadium had stalled and would start up near the beginning of the fall semester. To the athletic department: your search is easy. Name the baseball stadium for Walter Gibbons. He has earned our respect and praise. Give him an everlasting legacy at this University.

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