Mike Ilitch’s Generosity Lives on at Madonna
February 13, 2017
LIVONIA, Mich. – While Mike Ilitch was a major force in the rebirth of Detroit and the revitalization of the Red Wings and Tigers, he also found it in his heart to support Madonna University Crusader athletics. Mike and Marian Ilitch made a substantial gift to underwrite a state-of-the-art baseball field, which was dedicated in the Fall 2005, and aptly named Ilitch Ballpark.
“Even though I was not part of the stadium process, Mike’s reach is felt even beyond his gift,” said Crusader Athletic Director Scott Kennell. “In my time at Madonna I’ve gotten to know Mike’s son Chris both personally and professionally and Mike’s legacy lives on through his children. The stadium continues to provide a first-class playing surface for our student-athletes and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Many members of the Detroit Tigers organization joined the Ilitches at the dedication, including Dave Dombrowski, Willie Horton, Gates Brown and Jim Price.
The facility, which was designed by Grissim Metz Andriese Associates of Northville, Michigan, is the first on-campus baseball field to be built at Madonna University.
Constructed by Midwest Landscape Group, Inc. of Commerce, Michigan, Ilitch Ballpark is an engineered field, built with sport bluegrass turf and pro style infield dirt, which is an exact replica of the playing surface used by the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. The playing surface has widely been recognized as the best collegiate surface in the state of Michigan.
Ilitch Ballpark has been home to eight conference championship clubs and has hosted the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference tournament in 2005, 2006 and 2008-11. Since the construction of the on-campus field, Madonna has posted a 164-43 overall record in home contests for an impressive .788 winning percentage.
“The Madonna University baseball program is very thankful and blessed to be able to play on such a great surface,” said Crusader Head Coach Ted Falkner. “Every player, past, present and future, is fortunate to have the opportunity to not only represent Madonna on the baseball field, but to do so on campus at a top-notch facility. Without the Ilitch’s gift, who knows where Madonna baseball would be playing today.”
In 1990, many years before Ilitch’s donation that made the new ballpark possible, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, in recognition of his commitment to the international campaign against hunger, his outstanding service as a partner in education with Madonna University, and for his Christian spirit demonstrated as a community leader and benefactor.
Mike Ilitch will forever be remembered by Madonna University faculty, staff and students as a humanitarian, a business leader and a lover of baseball. In particular, Crusader baseball coaches, players and fans will be reminded of his incredible generosity each time they go to Ilitch Ballpark.
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