James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field - 501 S. Main Street | Warrensburg, MO 64093
In the spring of 1998 Central Missouri enjoyed the completion of an outstanding baseball facility to go with its already outstanding baseball program – James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field.
A $1.2 million construction project, funded primarily by Crane, added a locker room and coaches’ offices for the Mules, an umpires dressing room, new dugouts, permanent seats, a concession stand, a press box and lights to the already existing playing field.
In the fall of 2004, a new facility was added to include indoor batting cages and bullpens, a weight room, storage facility, and umpires dressing room. Following that in 2006, permanent seatback chairs were installed for the fans. All of this was funded by Crane. In the summer of 2013, the stadium received another upgrade with a new grass playing surface being installed.
In the fall of 2015, a $1.1 million project to outfit the stadium with a sythentic turf playing surface was funded primarily by Crane. The project, which includes synthetic turf from AstroTurf, was completed in time for the Mules’ 2016 home-opener. The field was officially dedicated at the 2016 home opener on Friday, March 4, a 2-1 UCM win over Pittsburg State.
On January 21, 1998, Central Missouri’s Board of Governors approved the naming of the facility, formerly known as Mules’ Field, in honor of Crane and Tompkins.
Official dedication ceremonies were held on May 2, 1998. The facility was showcased in the October 1998 issue of Athletics Administration magazine.
The first night game played under the new lights took place on March 25, 1998, with the Mules beating Benedictine College 21-6. On the May 2 dedication day, the Mules swept a doubleheader from Truman State University, 14-2 and 10-4, in the first round of the MIAA Playoffs. The 1998 MIAA Postseason Tournament and the NCAA Central Regional Tournament were also played here, with the Mules winning both events.
Tompkins, who died in July, 1996, at the age of 55, was the Mules’ baseball coach from 1965 through 1980. He designed the facility prior to its original construction in 1975. As coach, he compiled a 248-164-1 record (.602 winning percentage). His teams won MIAA championships in 1966, 1971 and 1974, went to the NCAA tournament in 1971 and 1974, and placed fourth at the 1974 NCAA Championship. He was voted MIAA Coach of the Year in 1974. Prior to becoming the Mules’ head coach, Tompkins had been a three-year letterman for the Mules as a pitcher.
His 1974 team was inducted into the Central Missouri Athletic Hall of Fame in 1994 and he was inducted posthumously in 2002.
Crane, who played for the Mules from 1973 through 1976, provided the lead gift for the additions to the facility. A 1997 Central Missouri and 2012 MIAA Hall of Fame inductee, Crane was a standout pitcher during his career under Tompkins. He had a four-year record of 21-8 with an earned run average of 2.42. He was an honorable mention All-American and first-team All-MIAA selection in 1974 and 1975. In the Mules’ baseball record book, he ranks first in complete games (23), career shutouts (7), third in career strikeouts (215), and is in the top 10 in career wins (21) and career earned run average (2.42). He still holds the Mules’ single-game strikeout record with 18 against Ohio Northern in a 2-0 Mules win in the 1974 College Division World Series. In his last game as a Mule, he pitched a 1-0 shutout vs. Lincoln on May 8, 1976, at this site. Crane is a graduate of Lutheran North High School in St. Louis and in November of 2011 became the fifth owner of the Houston Astros Major League Baseball franchise.
This field, which seats approximately 1,500, has been the site of NCAA Division II Regionals in 1989, 1994, 1995, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010 and 2012 as well as MIAA Tournaments in 1986, 1992, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007. The field’s dimensions are 330 feet down each foul line, 375 feet to left center and right center, and 400 feet to center field. In 40 seasons at this site, the Mules’ record is 755-149-1 (.835).
While this site originally was under construction in 1975, the Mules played their home games at Warrensburg’s Grover Park. Prior to 1975, the Mules had played at a site where the Multipurpose Building and its surrounding parking lots now are located, as well as at Grover Park.
The first game played at this site was on March 22, 1976 vs. Kansas State University. The Mules won the first game of a doubleheader 2-1, while the Wildcats won game two 7-4.