Alumnus Warren Lichtenstein’s Transformational Gift to Help Fund Upgrades at the Home of Penn Baseball
From PennAthletics.com – July 22, 2020
The Division of Recreation and Intercollegiate Athletics at the University of Pennsylvania is thrilled to announce a transformational gift of more than $2,000,000 from Warren Lichtenstein, C’87, to help fund capital upgrades at the home of Penn Baseball. As a result of his generosity, Penn Athletics is excited to share that once Phase I of the renovation is complete, the playing surface will be known as Tommy Lasorda Field at Meiklejohn Stadium, named after the Baseball Hall of Fame inductee from Norristown, Pa. who won two World Series titles while managing the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Through a portion of his gift, Lichtenstein has created a matching fund in the hopes that others will be inspired to get involved. He will match dollar-for-dollar any contribution to the stadium project up to $2,050,000, creating the $4,100,000 necessary to complete Phase I of the project. All gifts can be completed over a five-year pledge schedule. As a result of Warren’s matching gift, naming opportunities associated with the project are available at half the gift level that was initially required.
“We are incredibly grateful for Warren’s generosity in honor of his dear friend Tommy Lasorda,” the T. Gibbs Kane, Jr. W’69 Director of Athletics and Recreation Dr. M. Grace Calhoun said. “Once Warren’s gift is matched, we will be able to upgrade the baseball facility to include artificial turf and enhance the student-athlete and fan experience in a number of ways to help us compete for Ivy League championships. We are confident that our alumni community, and the greater baseball community, will step up to the plate to improve our student-athlete experience and honor Mr. Lasorda.”
Lichtenstein is motivated to conduct this challenge and honor his dear friend as a result of the incredible character, grit and growth mindset that Tommy has displayed throughout his life as a player, a manager and perhaps most importantly, as a mentor to so many.
“Tommy Lasorda has been a great mentor and coach and he has touched the lives of so many people around the world as the greatest ambassador for the game of baseball and the Dodgers,” said Lichtenstein. “Tommy and the Lasorda family have meant so much and done so much for Norristown and the state of Pennsylvania that it is only fitting to name Penn’s baseball field for him.”
Lasorda’s accomplishments in baseball are numerous, beginning with his 1997 induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. He led the Dodgers to World Series titles in 1981 and 1988 and was a two-time National League Manager of the Year. Lasorda became the first manager to win a World Series championship and an Olympic gold medal when he led the United States to gold at the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, Australia. Originally signed by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1945, Lasorda reached the big leagues as a pitcher with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1954.
“I am honored to have a baseball field named after me in my home state of Pennsylvania and at the University of Pennsylvania,” said Lasorda. “I am most thankful to my great friend, Warren Lichtenstein, and everyone at the University of Pennsylvania, for this unbelievable tribute and honor.” Lasorda, who resides in Fullerton, California and is 92, just celebrated his wife, Jo’s, 90th birthday. The two have been married for 70 years and Lasorda has been with the Dodgers organization 71 years.
Upgrades in Phase I of this project include a brand new fully turfed field, renovated dugouts, a re-orientation of the field, updated protective netting at the field, and a permanent restroom facility. Updates in Phase II include a pitcher development area. The matching gift is only focused on Phase I and Penn Athletics will only accept pledges for Phase II once Phase I is completely funded.
“I want to thank Warren for his generosity and invaluable contribution to the Penn baseball program,” said John Yurkow, Penn’s current W. Joseph Blood Head Coach of Baseball. “Current and future teams will be positively impacted by these enhancements, which will serve a key role in player development moving forward. Tommy has touched countless players and coaches throughout his impressive career, and I am honored that our field will be named after such a pivotal figure in the baseball community. I’m excited to see the positive momentum of the program continue and this gift will help to solidify Penn as a top team in the region.”