FROM CBB NEWS SOURCE
In the late 1950s, Drayton McLane Jr. (’59 master’s in food marketing management) would walk from his Michigan State University campus dorm to class and marvel at the beauty and activities at Old College Field. By the spring of 2009, the McLane family will have literally brought “new life” to its baseball facility through a $4 million commitment to enhance one of the most pristine environments in all of intercollegiate athletics. On Sept. 12, 2008, the MSU Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the naming of McLane Baseball Stadium.
“Michigan State is excited to be the recipient of Drayton and Elizabeth’s wonderful generosity,” MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon said. “We enthusiastically look forward to celebrating the opening of McLane Baseball Stadium and the 125th anniversary of Spartan Athletics with the McLane’s and our entire Spartan family next spring.”
McLane is no stranger to bringing new life to baseball programs or corporate endeavors for that matter. Since purchasing the Houston Astros in 1993 and assuming the role of Chairman and CEO, the Astros rank second in the National League in winning percentage (.534) from 1993-2007, including four National League Central Division titles.
McLane also serves as Chairman of McLane Group. During his years with the McLane Company – a subsidiary wholesale grocery distribution business – he enhanced its technology systems and added 16 distribution centers nationwide to expand its business from a $3 million a year operation into a $19 billion enterprise.
McLane and his wife, Elizabeth, have two sons, Drayton III and Denton. In his spare time, McLane has been active in numerous philanthropic ventures, including: Vice President of the Executive Board for the Boy Scouts of America; Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Scott and White Memorial Hospital; member of the National Board of Governors for Cooper Institute of Aerobics Research; a director of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University; member of the Greater Houston Partnership; and member of the United Way of the Texas Gulf Coast.
On a recent trip back to campus, McLane was presented with the 2008 Baseball Alumnus of the Year award. “It was a pleasure to come back to campus and reconnect to the fine student-athletes and people at Michigan State University,” McLane said. “MSU provided me with a quality education. My family and I are humbled to do our part toward ensuring a bright future for the Spartan baseball program and their dedicated student-athletes.”
First-year Michigan State Athletics Director Mark Hollis has thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to become acquainted with Mr. McLane. “There is no question that Drayton and Spartan Athletics have many similar values,” Hollis said. “While we both aspire to win championships, we also understand the importance in winning with class and dignity and to do what we can to make our community a better place. We are thrilled to be able to add the McLane name to our baseball stadium and Kobs Field, and associate our program with the moral character and commitment to excellence that he and his family unequivocally posses.”
McLane Baseball Stadium is designed for 2,500 seats with 400 chair back seats and 2,100 bench-style seats, a new press box, backstops, all new fencing and handicap-accessible seating, with brick accents to architecturally match historic Jenison Field House and MSU’s newly constructed hitting and pitching facility.
“We are ecstatic about the future of Spartan Baseball and the opening of McLane Baseball Stadium,” first-year head coach Jake Boss Jr. said. “This state-of-the-art facility will provide our coaching staff with a valuable recruiting tool and position us to return this program to elite status within the Big Ten Conference. The future of this baseball program is bright thanks to the tremendous generosity of Drayton and Elizabeth McLane.”
The next time Drayton and his family walk through the revived Old College Field area next spring, Spartan Athletics will be celebrating the opening of McLane Baseball Stadium and the 125th year of intercollegiate athletics at MSU. Thanks to the generosity of the McLane’s, that walk will continue to be as special for generations of future student-athletes and fans as it was for Drayton nearly a half century ago.
ABOUT KOBS FIELD
The heart of Old College Field, Kobs Field (pronounced “KOBES”) is Michigan State’s most historic athletic site, with its unique atmosphere part of the rich tradition at MSU. The site of Kobs Field was originally purchased by Michigan State’s Board of Agriculture in 1900. Kobs Field was dedicated in 1969 as a tribute to John Herman Kobs, the winningest coach in program history. Kobs was inducted into the Michigan State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1993 and is one of only three Spartans to have his baseball jersey (No. 25) retired.