Recent renovations at Point Loma Nazarene University’s baseball field has earned it a new title: “America’s Most Scenic Ballpark”. This title was bestowed on the field, named after the university’s long-time coach, Carroll B Land, by Baseball America Magazine, which is considered the No. 1 authority on college baseball.
And it is true – sitting in the stands or just passing by – causes one to ponder the beauty of the Pacific Ocean from atop the wondrous heights where the ballpark sits.
But now the Carroll B Land Stadium has more seating, bigger scoreboards, more parking, field-level dugouts, a new chain link fence, batting cages, a family and VIP section, a press box, concession stands, restrooms and a training facility. These renovations bring resources to the view.
The university is situated on top of Point Loma, the peninsula that includes Ocean Beach – and the entire campus has great views.
Here’s what the PLNU Sea Lions say about the stadium and its history:
Nestled on the seaside cliffs of Point Loma, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, no other collegiate baseball park can match the picturesque views and comfortable setting of Carroll B. Land Stadium on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University.
Coaches, players and fans marvel at the beautiful park and the magnificent surroundings. The immaculate green grass of the playing field is outlined by the blue sky and sea. Its cozy dimensions offset by the prevailing winds blowing in off the ocean.
In 1993, Kevin Kernan of the San Diego Union-Tribune was on the Point Loma campus covering the NAIA Volleyball tournament. Walking beyond the gym, he was amazed upon viewing the university’s spectacular baseball field.
Charmed by the baseball facility, Kernan wrote an article that appeared in both the local Union-Tribune and the national Baseball America magazine. The title of the article, “America’s Most Scenic Ballpark.” The nickname has stuck ever since. However, the ballpark wasn’t always “America’s Most Scenic.”
From 1949-1960, Pasadena College employed four head baseball coaches: Horace Smith, Glenn Chafey, Chalmer Cartright and Herb Bounds. Since 1960, though, the Crusader / Sea Lion baseball program has known five head coaches, Carroll Land (1961-1999), Scott Sarver (2000-04), Jay Johnson (2005), Jack Northam (2006-08) and current head coach Joe Schaefer. All of these men have worked over the years to improve the Point Loma’s baseball facilites.
Before moving to San Diego, Pasadena College did not have an on-campus baseball facility at all. The team played its home games at Arcadia Park, Victory Park and Brookside Park in Arroyo Seco. So from 1961 to 1973, head coach Carroll Land carried out a college baseball program without a field. After relocating to Point Loma in 1973, the college took over the present campus from Cal-Western-USIU, inheriting the school’s ballpark. It was the first time in his 12 years of coaching the team that Land enjoyed an on-site baseball field. However, while he and the university were happy to have a field of their own, many improvements needed to be made.
The remainder of the 70’s saw retaining walls installed along the left and right field lines, eliminating the numerous and annoying ground-rule doubles lost in the ice plant that grew within feet of the foul lines. The precarious steps that led to the dugouts, or “dug ups” were replaced by ramps and 270 sheets of plywood reinforced the dilapidated wooden fence.
The facilities continued to improve dramatically when the six-foot high “dug-ups” were replaced with field-level dugouts. Dirt from that project was used to build the golf practice facility just beyond the leftfield fence. In the eighties, when Northam joined the staff as an assistant, improvements continued. A concession stand and restrooms were built (replaced in 2002 with the construction of the athletic training clinic) and the wooden fence was replaced with the present chain-link one.
In the 1990′s the PLNU staff devised ways to create more instructional space. It was at this time the facility took on its most dramatic remodel. Thousands of yards of earth were removed and 250 feet of heavy block wall was installed to hold up the adjacent track, rendering a space 250×25 on which to build much needed multiple batting cages and a simulated pitching zone.
The field continued to be refined over the years. A new scoreboard was added; seats that replaced the concrete benches were installed; a club-view seating box over the home dugout was built; the height of the protective backstop was doubled; the grassy festival seating area down the right field line was quadrupled; a 2,800 foot observation deck was built on top of the new athletic training clinic; a new batter’s eye was installed and a new announcing booth was built.
Fittingly, in 1998, the park was named Carroll B. Land Stadium in honor of the the man who guided the program for 39 years. It was his dedication and hard work that transformed the park from a literal diamond in the rough into the gem it is today.