“I taught my kids God bless momma, God bless daddy and God bless Allie P. Reynolds.”
Jason Salsman/Multimedia Producer
Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has been home of OSU baseball for 38 years
STILLWATER, Oklahoma — It is not the athletic feats of the late Allie Pierce Reynolds that have stuck in the mind of legendary NCAA baseball coach Gary Ward.
They certainly could have.
Reynolds, a Muscogee (Creek) citizen famously nicknamed “Superchief”, was a multi-sport star at Oklahoma State Univeristy (then A&M) before embarking on a 13-year Major League Baseball career pitching for the Cleveland Indians and most notably the New York Yankees.
It is Reynolds’ Yankee lore that still resonates today. He won six world titles with the Bronx Bombers and was a six-time all-star who threw two career no-hitters. He is immortalized with a plaque in Yankee Stadium’s famous Monument Park alongside names like Ruth, DiMaggio and Gehrig.
But on this hot, hazy Oklahoma day in Stillwater, Ward sits and watches Cowboy batting practice in the park that he helped bring to life and that for 38 years has bore Reynolds’ name. He remembers the process of getting it built and how it showcased Allie’s humility. To him, it was more impressive than any pitch Reynolds ever threw.
“We thought, ‘we need to name this,’ and I said ‘Allie Reynolds is the guy,’ ” Ward said. “He and Arlene came up and had dinner with us at the country club, it was the first time I’d ever met him. Very humble, very understated. He didn’t have any problem making a (financial) contribution, what he had a problem with was he didn’t want to be seen as buying his name on the stadium. I said “no, no you let me handle that,’ and we went through collegiate baseball and explained the story and that made it go.”
Allie P. Reynolds Stadium has seen its share of success since officially opening in April 1981, mostly with Ward at the helm. The stadium’s opening ushered in the booming era of Cowboy baseball in the 1980s that saw nine consecutive Big 8 titles and seven trips to the College World Series.
Ward recalls bidding for the first NCAA regional tournament in Stillwater, which in itself was the principal motivation behind getting the stadium built. OSU received news they had earned the hosting site on a Monday morning and began play that Wednesday, so it was a quick turnaround and a bit of a whirlwind for Ward.
The Cowboys advanced to the College World Series and when they got back home, Ward found out that Reynolds drove up to attend the regional. Due to the NCAA being in charge of press credentials and ticketing, Ward had no idea that Allie had not only came for the game, but wasn’t able to get in.
“He and Arlene drove here, saw the crowd full, saw the line and didn’t pull any punches, just turned around and drove back home and didn’t ever say a word. That’s the character and humility of Allie Reynolds,” Ward said. “You feel like you’ve made a major mistake in your life politically… I’ve felt bad about that for the last 40 years. I apologized and he just let it roll off of him. He said, ‘no I need to be smarter and make sure somebody knows I’m coming.’ ”
In this era of sports, especially at the collegiate level, the games are almost secondary to the facilities arms race. Better locker rooms, better players. And stadiums built in the 1980s are not long for the world.
The charming old stadium nestled on campus in between Duck and Knoblock Streets is down to its last couple years. OSU announced and began construction on a $60 million state of the art facility that will be one of the finest in the conference and the country.
Current Cowboy head baseball coach Josh Holliday is excited about the new stadium. It will be a game changer for his recruiting efforts and getting the best players to Stillwater. But the excitement about the new park also brings reflection from Holliday, who was a catcher for the Cowboys from 1996-99 and spent his entire career playing at Allie P.
The name on the stadium means something to him. He talked about the impact Reynolds’ name and legacy still have on his players and those he recruits to this day.
“I think he stands out as a trailblazer,” Holliday said. “What a gifted athlete he was. It’s something our state can celebrate, our university and the Native American history of it we can all be proud of.”
Athletic Director Mike Holder has been non-committal on the naming of the new stadium, only saying that for now it is known as Oklahoma State University Baseball Stadium.
Count Ward among those who wish to see Allie Reynolds’ name live on inside the new facility. He understands maybe more than anybody what Allie’s name meant to the future and continued success of OSU baseball.
“I taught my kids God bless momma, God bless daddy and God bless Allie P. Reynolds,” Ward said. “That gift and his involvement and his name gave us the catalyst and the energy around our program that drove it.”