The newly-renovated Fred Handler Park at McGraw-Jennings Field was officially dedicated on September 9, 2006 and serves as the new and improved home of St. Bonaventure baseball.
Named after longtime Bonnies baseball coach Fred Handler, the field was converted from natural grass to state-of-the-art Sport Turf XP. The project also included new 50-foot long sunken dugouts, new bullpens and new fencing around the entire facility, including an extended backstop behind home plate.
A new mound and home plate area was added during summer of 2018, a new backstop installed in 2019 and a new scoreboard put in place during 2020.
Thomas Marra '80, who played baseball under Handler and is a current member of the University's Board of Trustees, donated $900,000 to The Anniversary Campaign for St. Bonaventure which was embarked for the baseball program, enabling the renovation to become a reality.
Handler is a member of St. Bonaventure's Athletics Hall of Fame. He also was an assistant basketball coach at St. Bonaventure for 10 years (1960-70) and served as a professor of physical education from 1959 until his retirement in 1997.
The baseball complex also features an elevated press box behind home plate, in which game operations personnel as well as radio talent work on game days. The dimensions of Fred Handler Park stretch 330 feet down the left and right field lines, 367-foot power alleys and 403 feet to straight away center field.
St. Bonaventure baseball fans are recognized as some of the best in the Atlantic 10 Conference as hundreds of students, faculty and staff as well as members of the community flock to the hillside seating during the spring. Their creative brand of support includes game day tailgate parties and boisterous, but respectful cheers for their Bonnies. The environment at Fred Handler Park provides a terrific atmosphere to watch collegiate baseball and plays a major role in the club's success.
The Buffalo News recognized Handler Park by naming it one of the Top 10 most beautiful settings to watch a baseball game in New York State. With views of the Enchanted Mountains in the backdrop, it's hard to argue with that claim.
The field was named in honor of the great John McGraw and Hugh Jennings, members of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and alumni of St. Bonaventure, in 1927. The field sat in the area between what is now Friedsam Memorial Library, Plassman Hall, and the Reilly Center. The newly constructed field was dedicated on June 1, 1927 in honor of John McGraw, then manager of the New York baseball Giants, and Hugh Jennings, his friend and colleague. On this day the diamond would also host its first game between McGraw's major league Giants of New York and his old Alma Mater, the St. Bonaventure baseball program. The reported attendance of the game was around 7,000 people. The game that day was a great performance but as it turned out the New York Giants came out on top with a score of 11-2.
McGraw-Jennings Field would move to its present-day location in 1958 with a re-dedication ceremony held including McGraw's widow and Jennings' daughter. Due to the college's expanding development the field needed to be moved from what is now the area between the Reilly Center, Plassmann Hall, and Friedsam Memorial Library, to the open area that is south of the Reilly Center.
Since then, Handler Park at McGraw-Jennings Field has been home to numerous Bonnies players who have gone on to realize their dreams of professional careers. Read more about Bona players who have gone on to play at the next level here.