When the plans for Wolfe Field were originally drawn up, they always included a space for a dedicated indoor hitting facility.
Now, two decades later, the College is almost ready to begin building the structure at the baseball field.
Thanks to generous gifts by two families, the College broke ground in August on the site that will become the Christensen-Buffington Hitting Facility. Judy Buffington made the gift in honor of her husband, Dean ’63, who passed away in 2020. Carl ’70 and Dorene ’72 Christensen made the gift because of the family-type atmosphere at the College.
“I wanted to honor Dean. Dean loved The College of Idaho,” Buffington said with a smile. “He played baseball here and wanted to play for the Yankees, but the Yankees didn’t call so his professors talked him into getting serious with his schoolwork.”
Those studies led him to law school and then a successful career in estate planning. Meanwhile, the Christensens have been strong supporters of the College for decades, to the point Carl can still rattle off a number of former students who may have stayed with the Christensens for a few days or a few weeks many years ago.
“I’ve been blessed to have a lot of financial success and I don’t need all the assets, nor does my wife,” Christensen said. “I couldn’t think of a better place to give it (the gift) than the College.”
The building will be 80 feet wide by 120 feet long and will be located down the left-field line at Wolfe Field. It will include storage and a team meeting room. There will be an area with netting to provide batting cages for the baseball and softball teams. That netting will be raiseable, which would leave a large, open area for teams and clubs to utilize when the weather is poor.
Long-time head baseball coach Shawn Humberger, who graduated from the College in 1988, has imagined this since Wolfe Field first opened in 2009. Before that, the baseball team played at Simplot Stadium across the street from campus; a football stadium that, at the time, had been retro-fitted to house the baseball program.
“We’ve been trying to get something like this since we were over at Simplot Stadium and we had to blow the snow out so we could hit underneath (the grandstands at) Simplot,” Humberger said. “We’ve been hoping for this for a long time.”
Wolfe Field is an ongoing project supported by Graye Wolfe, his wife Brenda, and their family. Their support for the field dates back to 2008. It started as just a field on the corner of Linden Street and Griffiths Parkway, about a mile from campus. Since that time, Wolfe Field added seating for 1,000 fans, a press box and, most recently, lights. The Christensen-Buffington Hitting Facility, when completed, will finish the original plan for the site.
The College of Idaho has a 130-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit www.collegeofidaho.edu.