New AstroTurf field is a win for UCLA Bruins baseball and U.S. veterans

The new training ground at Jackie Robinson Stadium is ready for action, marking a leap forward for the UCLA Bruins and the American veterans who benefit from the facilities of UCLA West Los Angeles Veterans Campus.

Dalton, Ga., April 13, 2022 /PRNewswire-PRWeb/ — The new training ground at Jackie Robinson Stadium is ready for action, marking a quantum leap forward for the UCLA Bruins and American veterans who benefit from facilities at the UCLA West Los Angeles Veterans Campus. It is named Branca Family Field in honor of the three-time All-Star legend Ralph Blanca – the Rogue who stood next to Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947the most memorable opening day in Major League Baseball history.

The new turf is a state-of-the-art AstroTurf Diamond Series playing surface that will support UCLA nationally recognized baseball program, as well as the school’s decades-long commitment to helping American veterans.

UCLA has been supporting veterans for over 70 years through a unique partnership with the VA. It all started with a medical affiliation after the Second World War between UCLA School of Medicine and the VA Health Care Center. Today, the school and VA offer several joint services and programs, including the Veteran Family Wellness Center and the Veteran Resilience and Recovery Center of Excellence. All of these services are located on the VA West Los Angeles campus – which is also home to the 10.1-acre Jackie Robinson Stadium, home to the UCLA college baseball team. Along with the new AstroTurf field, it now also houses the official training ground of the UCLA Bruins.

The completion of this project marks a significant milestone for today’s team, but it also symbolizes an important piece of baseball history. Jackie Robinson – who was a U.S. Army veteran, as well as being the first African-American to play in Major League Baseball – is now honored alongside former friend and compatriot Brooklyn Dodger, Ralph Branca.

The training ground is part of a larger, multimillion-dollar upgrade to the stadium grounds, made possible by several generous and well-known donors. John Branca, by Ralph Branca nephew, a prominent entertainment lawyer and UCLA Law School graduate, donated $1 million. Philanthropist and widow of UCLA baseball star Jack Gifford, Rhodine Giffordalso given $1 million. Jack Gifford was elected to the UCLA Baseball Hall of Fame in 1990, and he, along with his wife, showed tremendous support for UCLA baseball over the years.

Other major donors include current and former Major League Baseball stars Gerrit Cole, Troy Glaus, Brandon Crawford, Chase Utleyand Eric Karros. All are former Bruins players.

Through 17 seasons as UCLA head coach, Jean Sauvage established the Bruins as a consistent national championship contender. Wild helped UCLA reach the pinnacle of college baseball in 2013, as the Bruins captured their first-ever NCAA baseball title. Under his leadership, UCLA qualified for the playoffs in 12 of the last 16 seasons, hosting an NCAA regional in six of the last 10, including four in a row from 2010-13.

“The new training facility at Jackie Robinson Stadium is a game-changer in many ways,” Savage said. “Our ability to use the land for all kinds of development for our players is essential. The AstroTurf field provides opportunities and capabilities that our players haven’t had in the past.”

Savage ended his 17th season as UCLA head coach in 2021. He is currently the third longest serving head coach in UCLA baseball program history and has gone 589-382-1 over the past 17 seasons.

“We use the field for ground balls, team defense, base running, bunting, team offense, pitching field practice and bullpen sessions” , added Savage. “The quality of the grass is great. It’s like playing on a natural pitch. The speed, the jumps, the ability to play are at a very high level.”

In 12 trips to the playoffs at UCLASavage compiled a 44-25 record (.638 winning percentage), recording the most playoff wins of any head coach in program history.

With Savage leading the program, UCLA qualified for the College World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2013, and reached the best of three championship series in 2010 and 2013. UCLA defeated Mississippi Statetwo games to zero, at the 2013 College World Series. In 2010, the Bruins advanced to the championship series for the first time in school history, losing two games to zero to Caroline from the south.

Savage’s solid work with UCLA program was equally evident in player development and the MLB Draft. During his 17 seasons at Westwood, UCLA produced 117 provisional selections. Under Savage, the Bruins have led or co-led every NCAA school in draft selections in 2019 (13) and 2021 (10), and have produced a first draft pick in three consecutive years (2019-21) for the first time in program history. In addition, he coached 22 players at UCLA who competed in the major leagues.

Having entered the synthetic turf industry more than 50 years ago with a new baseball diamond at the Astrodome in Houston, this project is also significant for AstroTurf.

“We are honored to create the new training ground at Jackie Robinson Stadium. We have put the best into our turf systems, and we know that this pitch will be a great thing for everyone who can play there,” said Pat CassaRegional Sales Manager for AstroTurf.

The Branca Family Field is an AstroTurf RootZone Diamond Blend OPS system with exceptionally durable split film fibers and organic infill. Combining RootZone technology and AstroTurf’s state-of-the-art synthetic clay and grass surfaces, players can count on improved ball play, realistic sliding distances and advanced temperature control.

The UCLA Bruins – who won the national championship in 2013 and are already off to a strong 2022 season with wins over Texas and Oklahoma, will train on the field all-weather all year round. The land will also serve as a recreational space for veterans and their families.

With this brand new turf, Jackie Robinson Stadium will continue to position itself as one of the finest facilities in college baseball, while representing one of the most important stories in the history of the sport.

About AstroTurf®
For athletes and sports enthusiasts, AstroTurf® has redefined the way the game is played. The brand offers advanced, multi-sport and specialist synthetic turf systems with exclusive engineering technologies. A growing number of high schools, colleges, professional sports teams and municipalities continue to select AstroTurf branded products for their superior quality, technical superiority and safety. To learn more, visit the AstroTurf website at http://www.astroturf.com.

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