MACON – OrthoGeorgia, the Middle Georgia region's largest provider of orthopaedic services, has made a significant commitment toward construction of a new Mercer University baseball complex, which will bear the name OrthoGeorgia Park.
"The University is deeply grateful to the OrthoGeorgia partners for their commitment to this priority project for our Athletic Department," said Mercer President William D. Underwood. "I am confident that it will inspire other donors to come forward and help us complete funding for OrthoGeorgia Park and greatly enhance the baseball gameday experience for Mercer Bears fans and players."
Construction of the new park will include rebuilding of the grandstands, press box, dugouts, concessions area and restrooms. In addition to these improvements, a new main entrance plaza will be built. Upon completion, the Bears will play their home games at OrthoGeorgia Park at Claude Smith Field.
"Mercer Athletics is honored to partner with OrthoGeorgia, a first-class organization so widely respected in the Middle Georgia community," said Mercer Director of Athletics Jim Cole. "As a former baseball player, I know I speak for past, present and future members of the Mercer baseball family when saying how appreciative we are to have their support."
Claude Smith Field, among the finest playing surfaces in all of collegiate baseball, is named for the University's all-time winningest baseball coach, who guided the Bears to 405 victories from 1948 to 1977. The venue underwent its last renovations, which included improvements to the playing surface and construction of an indoor hitting facility, in 2003.
"This project will give Mercer a park fitting of the level of success that our baseball program has reached in recent years," said Brian Gerrity, executive director of the Mercer Athletic Foundation. "We are thrilled that OrthoGeorgia has taken the lead in this effort to provide the program and the University with a top-notch facility."
Over the past decade, the Bears have elevated the program to a new level under the guidance of head coach Craig Gibson. The team reached the NCAA tournament for the first time in program history in 2010 and returned to the tournament in 2013. The Bears are one of only four Division I programs – along with Florida State, South Carolina and Virginia – to win at least 38 games each of the past five years. During Gibson's tenure, the team has won 10 of 12 games against opponents ranked in the top 10 nationally.
Additionally, since 2005, over 70 percent of players have made the conference All-Academic Team. The Bears have maintained a team GPA above 3.0 over the past seven seasons. In 2014, the team placed an unprecedented two players – senior shortstop Michael Massi and senior outfielder Derrick Workman – on the Capital One Academic All-America First Team. The honor marked Workman's second straight season being named one of the top 11 students among all Division I baseball players."I've served as team doctor for Mercer Athletics for more than 18 years, and I'm proud to be a part of this important next step in the relationship between the University and OrthoGeorgia," said OrthoGeorgia physician Dr. Timothy R. Stapleton. "On behalf of all the doctors at OrthoGeorgia, we look forward to the realization of OrthoGeorgia Park."
OrthoGeorgia and Forsyth Street Orthopaedics, both generous supporters of Mercer for more than 23 years, merged on July 1, 2014, combining 84 years of the highest quality orthopaedic service. As a result of the merger, OrthoGeorgia now offers 26 board-certified and fellowship-trained physicians supported by an even stronger group of physician's assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses, therapists, athletic trainers and other medical specialists.
Opportunities remain for contributions toward improvements to OrthoGeorgia Park. For more information, contact Gerrity at (478) 301-4003 or firstname.lastname@example.org.