NORMAN — University of Oklahoma Vice President and Director of Athletics Joe Castiglione announced a major gift to the Sooner baseball program from alumnus Robert L. "Bob" Stephenson ahead of the team's annual preseason banquet on Saturday evening. Stephenson, who played baseball at OU from 1948 through 1950, committed a major gift that will go toward a $10 million renovation to L. Dale Mitchell Park, which was announced by Castiglione in May 2017.
"Bob Stephenson is a great Sooner and has always been a tremendous leader for us, especially when it comes to supporting our student-athletes and the resources they need to be successful," said Castiglione. "He has served as a fund raising catalyst on many occasions, and once again has made a significant donation that gets us moving toward our goal of securing the necessary funds to complete our baseball stadium master plan. We are genuinely grateful for Bob and his wonderful family. We sincerely thank them for their meaningful support and extraordinary generosity."
Stephenson graduated from Oklahoma in 1951 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in geology. He resides in Norman with his wife Norma. The couple has two children. Bob and Norma are Bud Wilkinson Society members of the Sooner Club and have been long-time baseball, football and men's and women's basketball season ticket holders. Over the years, the Stephensons have contributed to various baseball and wrestling facility projects, while also providing scholarship support for the OU women's basketball program and the College of Arts and Sciences' religious studies program. Additionally, Stephenson has provided financial and alumnus leadership support to the OU School of Geology and Geophysics.
Originally from Blair, Okla., Stephenson played shortstop at OU under head coach Jack Baer. He began his professional career in the St. Louis Cardinals farm system in Houston in 1950, before serving in the U.S. Army in 1952-53 (including 13 months during the Korean War, stationed in Japan). Stephenson made his MLB debut with the Cardinals on April 14, 1955, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis. He played 67 games in his only major league season. In 2008, OU baseball recognized Stephenson as its honoree at the team's annual "Diamond Dinner."
A master plan for OU's baseball and softball parks was released late last season. A timeline for the plan has yet to be established. The most visible aspect of the baseball project would be the development of the berms along the first and third base lines. Renovation of the existing berms would include terraced seating, outdoor lounge seating, extended concourse and shade awning. In addition, a second-level clubhouse, coaches office and team meeting space is planned.
L. Dale Mitchell Park
The most visible aspect of the baseball project would be the development of the berms along the first and third base lines. Renovation of the existing berms along the first and third base side of the ball park would include the following:
- Terraced seating to allow for a combination of terraced picnic type seating on grass.
- Outdoor lounge seating on terraced wall.
- First base club consisting of drink rails, lounge seating, table-top seating.
- Outdoor concession area reminiscent of an outdoor sports lounge with TVs and specialty lighting.
- Integrated extension of the shade awning along the first base side.
- Expanded upper concourse.
- Outdoor lounge seating with shading devices.
- Shaded terraced awning in the shape of a baseball at the far end of the berms that will allow for bar height drink rails.
Also in the plan is a second level clubhouse, coaches office and team meeting space.