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If you light it, they will come

Playing night games and hosting an NCAA Regional are now possible for Blue Jay Baseball thanks to donors
Posted August 22, 2017
Brad Rosborough (center) and his daughter, Cailin, enjoy a reunion with Rosborough's one-time teammate and coach, Bob Babb. The visit was Rosborough's first to Homewood since graduating from Hopkins in 1980. Brad Rosborough (center) and his daughter, Cailin, enjoy a reunion with Rosborough's one-time teammate and coach, Bob Babb. The visit was Rosborough's first to Homewood since graduating from Hopkins in 1980.

As a senior on the Hopkins baseball team in 1977, Bob Babb remembers, he took part in an unusual ritual.

"Before practice, we would get in lines and pick up stones off the infield dirt," says Babb, now the Blue Jays' longest tenured and most successful coach. "We had no dugouts, no scoreboard, just the field. And the field was rough."

Babb's current charges — who are the defending Centennial Conference champions — play in roughly the same location as their coach did years ago, but in far posher environs. Babb Field at Stromberg Stadium, which opened in 2015, features a perfectly manicured playing surface and the professional-grade Murren Family Scoreboard.

The only thing missing? Lights. And Brad Rosborough, who was a freshman picking up rocks alongside Babb all those years ago, played an important role in topping off Hopkins baseball's current home.

"My wife and I feel strongly about supporting the relationships and people who got us started in our lives," says Rosborough, whose gift, alongside many others, bankrolled the lighting project. "Hopkins baseball, and Bob, were big parts of getting me started."

Rosborough, who went on to Northwestern University to pursue his MBA before building a career and raising a family in California, hadn't been back to Homewood since he graduated in 1980. But in May, during a trip to the East Coast, he had an opportunity to reunite with Babb. 

"We walked around the field and talked about a lot of memories — Bob is like an encyclopedia, he remembers everything," Rosborough says. Babb — a senior first baseman during Rosborough's rookie season — took the young outfielder under his wing when other upperclassmen didn’t appreciate a freshman starter in their midst, he recalls. "We hadn't seen each other in a long time, and yet it felt like we were picking up right where we left off."

Rosborough brought his daughter, Cailin, a sports fan who attends the University of Texas, to help educate her about the priorities of the family foundation she and her brother will lead in the future. When the conversation turned toward the lighting project, it was his daughter who immediately said "yes."

"She walked around the field, and she was just amazed. She said 'We have to do this — it's important,'" Rosborough says.

The impact of the installation of lights on Babb's program, and his student-athletes, are many. Lighting enables early-spring games to be played later, so players don't have to miss so much class time. It will allow the team to finish games delayed due to weather and to host night games that could attract a larger crowd of students to support the team. The lighted field makes Hopkins an attractive location to host a regional round of the NCAA's Division III Championship — and it will help the Blue Jays attract players who might help Hopkins win that tournament's title for the first time.

"When high school players come in and see a lighted stadium, that's a big selling point," Babb says. "We're recruiting mainly against Ivy and Patriot League schools, and a lot of those schools don't have lights, either, so this puts us on par with or above many of those programs."

For Rosborough, enabling that recruiting advantage is just one small way he can say "thank you" to his old friend.

"Bob has always been a teacher — he was a teacher when I thought he was just one of my teammates, and that's why he's become such an excellent coach," Rosborough says. "I'd love to see Bob achieve something really special before he steps down."

To learn more about how you can support Hopkins baseball and Blue Jay athletics, please contact Grant Kelly, director of development for Blue Jays Unlimited.