Ithaca College named its baseball facility Freeman Field in 1965 in honor of James A. “Bucky” Freeman, who coached the Bombers from 1932 to 1965. On Friday, Ithaca College celebrated the completion of a successful fund-raising campaign for the baseball program by naming two portions for current coaches who both played for Freeman, George Valesente and Frank Fazio. The playing surface has been named Valesente Diamond in honor of the head coach who competed his 34th year this spring. The newly renovated batting tunnel has been named Fazio Batting Tunnel, honoring the veteran assistant coach who has spent 28 years with the program.
Friday’s ceremony, which kicked off the Bomber Baseball Alumni Reunion, included the dedication of the field’s new backstop. The backstop features a padded four-foot wall stretching between the two dugouts with a 25-foot netting running along the wall’s length and elevated bleachers for up to 200 fans behind home plate.
The backstop enhancements are the latest renovations to the field, which has hosted Bomber baseball since 1958 and was named Freeman Field in 1965. These enhancements are the result of a successful fund-raising effort that the college undertook over the past year. The backstop renovation project raised $126,130 from 219 alumni and friends of the college.
The effort to name the Valesente Diamond at Freeman Field was led by Robert Coleman ’92, an all-American first baseman at Ithaca and member of the school’s Hall of Fame; Stephen Guinan '86; Gregg Kidd '84 of the Pinnacle Companies; and the Tompkins Trust Company. Coleman also spearheaded the improvements to the batting tunnel.
"George has undoubtedly left an imprint on the lives of those he's touched through his work as head coach, and now I am proud to say that his imprint will be left in an even more tangible way," said Brian McAree, vice president of student affairs and campus life, in his announcement of the diamond's naming.