Angles in the Outfield

Fame is not the name of the game in controversy over ASU baseball field

"The major point of the lunch meeting centered on naming the field at Packard for Coach Bobby Winkles," White wrote in a November 2, 1999 memo to Ceglas.

Realizing that this would be a controversial move, White asked Ceglas to form "a small committee to look at naming opportunities for both Coach Winkles and Coach Jim Brock."

The unofficial committee, which would include Hancock, was to make recommendations to White, which he would then forward to the university's formal committee on naming buildings and facilities. The official group was chaired by Ostrum, who six months earlier had secured Hancock's $1 million commitment.

"Thanks in advance for pushing this very important matter to complete fruition," White stated in a memo to Ceglas.

Two months later, Ceglas convened the "Baseball Naming Committee," which included Hancock and several other prominent individuals, including baseball donor Harvey Jabara; former Sun Devil baseball player and Oakland A's standout Sal Bando; powerhouse Phoenix attorney Mike Gallagher, who was a pitcher under Winkles; and ASU stadium benefactor Guthrie Packard Jr.

The committee convened its only meeting on January 18, 2000, and, not surprisingly, recommended "that the field at Packard Stadium be named Bobby Winkles Field," according to ASU records.

The committee also recommended that "we appropriately recognize and acknowledge Coach Jim Brock by naming the planned 'Walk/Circle of Fame' (honoring our great baseball tradition) in his honor upon entry to Packard Stadium," ASU records state.

Ceglas requested that committee members "keep these tributes confidential until we can finalize our plans and inform the campus and baseball community."

A committee member who asked not to be named says the meeting was a sham, convened simply to rubber-stamp the desires of a large contributor. "This is just a former player donating a large sum of money and these are his wishes," the committee member says.

Nothing came of it for nearly a year. Last December, athletic director Gene Smith asked Patsy Brock to lunch at the University Club, where they were joined by Ceglas. They discussed Hancock's donation and planned renovations at Packard Stadium.

"Vic Ceglas told me that they had been trying to find a way to honor two coaches," Patsy Brock says. "They had been able to get a donor and they were going to be able to do some really nice renovations to the entrance to Packard Stadium. He said as a part of this they were going to name the field Bobby Winkles Field."

According to Patsy Brock, Ceglas told her that ASU planned to build a pavilion leading up to the entrance of the stadium and it would be named the Jim Brock walkway.

"When they stopped for reaction from me, I told them that I thought that it was terrible and that the Brock family could not support it," she says.

Patsy Brock says she was prepared for the proposal, having heard rumors that ASU was considering naming the field after Winkles.

"I felt the walkway was not sufficient recognition for his accomplishments," Patsy Brock says. "Whenever there is a game and it's on television, they say, 'Here we are at Packard Stadium and Bobby Winkles Field.' They don't throw in there is a little walkway out front named for my husband."

Brock says Smith seemed somewhat concerned about her statements, particularly after she presented a comparison of the accomplishments of the two coaches.

Winkles coached ASU when the team competed in the Western Athletic Conference, a much weaker slate of teams than the competition Brock faced during most of his tenure in the Pacific 10 Conference. Winkles' teams turned out 17 major league players and 15 All-Americans, compared with Brock's teams that churned out 55 major league players and 39 All-Americans.

Winkles also coached during a period of far less scrutiny by the media and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which monitors academic performance of players. Winkles had 28 full scholarships available for his teams. By Brock's final year, there were only 11 full scholarships allowed.

Not only was Jim Brock an ASU coach, but he was also an ASU student. He earned three degrees -- including his master's and doctorate from ASU. Patsy also earned two degrees from Arizona State.

"Gene Smith acted concerned and very responsive to my plea and said [they] would like to revisit this situation," she says.

But on January 25, Smith called Patsy Brock and said the decision to name the field after Winkles was firm.

Smith says honoring Winkles by naming the field falls in line with ASU naming its football field after Frank Kush and basketball court after Ned Wulk. Both coaches were the first to bring national recognition to their respective programs. Smith says Winkles did the same thing for ASU baseball.

"The opportunity for all of us to enjoy baseball the way we are enjoying it today goes back to its roots and it goes back to Coach Winkles," Smith says.

Mike Gallagher, a power broker in the Valley's sports community through his close association with Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks general partner Jerry Colangelo, agrees with Smith's assessment of Winkles' pivotal role in the history of ASU baseball. At the same time, Gallagher implies that simply tossing a bone Brock's way is sufficient.

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