What happens when you combine a perfect summer evening with baseball, hotdogs, Columbia College alumni and their families?
You get the annual Springfield alumni event, taking place for the second year at Hammons Field, home of the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.
July 31 brought nearly 200 Columbia College and Christian College grads and their families to the ballpark, who anxiously waited outside Gate 1 with the rest of the crowd.
Everyone had a small box tucked under their arm as they waited – it was Bill Virdon bobblehead night. Despite the Springfield native and center fielder’s role in the 1960 World Series Championship with the Pittsburgh Pirates, the children in the crowd eyed the buffet table being set up for a reception for Columbia College guests.
And they kept a close eye on Springfield Cardinals pitcher Christopher Thomas, who stood by to sign autographs.
When the gate opened, the guests poured into the reception area on a patio overlooking the bullpen down the first base line. An enormous tent providing shade over rows of dining tables welcomed guests, along with plenty of food, and the boom of music from the stadium speakers. Alumni volunteers Stacey Goodale ’93 and Mike Reddick ’00 helped hand out CC swag and light blue alumni t-shirts made just for the occasion.
As alumni mixed and mingled, and admired their bobbleheads and Thomas autographs, a swirl of people began to form in the center of the tent. President Scott Dalrymple was standing there with his wife, Tina, and everyone wanted a chance to meet them.
Indeed, this was no ordinary alumni event. This was part of the presidential tour, a 34-stop nationwide expedition that Scott and Tina began in February with the intention of visiting each of the Columbia College campuses. Earlier in the day they toured the Springfield campus on Battlefield Road, graciously hosted by Director Kathy Gress and her staff, who were in attendance at the ballpark.
For as excited as alumni were to meet the Dalrymples, they were equally excited to meet the alumni, especially with classes spanning many decades represented. Peggy Lamke Price ’43 arrived with her daughter-in-law, Barbara Green Price ’72, and granddaughter, Abby Price ’13. Carol Winkler ’00, a member of the board of trustees, was in attendance, along with Cathy Whitfield ’95, assistant director of the Lake of the Ozarks campus, and her husband, Dean.
Col. Mike Randerson, who retired from the college in January after nearly 18 years as the vice president of the Division of Adult Higher Education, wore his Cougar Blue with his wife, Carole, and good friend Jim Morris, a successful Springfield real estate figure who donated the building to the Rolla campus.
After an hour of munching on all-American ballpark food, a sea of Columbia College loyals, now clad in light blue shirts with “Alumni 51” on the back, exited the patio to the field boxes near first base. Scott and Tina watched from the first row with Springfield campus director, Kathy Gress. And throughout the stadium, fans could see row after row of Cougars, visiting and reliving old times as they watched the game. It is doubtful anyone will remember how the Cardinals lost to the Arkansas Travelers that night; it was, after all, a perfect summer evening with baseball, hotdogs, Columbia College alumni and family.
For more photos of the event, visit the Columbia College Alumni Association Facebook page.