OSU baseball: Cowboys prepare for final series at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium
STILLWATER — Josh Holliday’s left-handed hitting skills were still unpolished, but he caught a pitch on the barrel and sent it sailing toward right-center field at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Barely clearing the fence, it hit the lower right corner of the old scoreboard, where a Verizon sign now hangs.
In his seventh season as Oklahoma State’s baseball coach, he can recall all the details of his first home run at the Cowboys’ historic stadium.
“I was 13. Remember it like it was yesterday,” Holliday said, reminiscing about one of many youth camps he attended.
The No. 13 Cowboys host No. 12 Baylor in the final scheduled series at Reynolds Stadium, beginning with the opener at 6:35 p.m. Thursday.
The precise final game at old Allie P. is yet to be known, but the stadium’s days are certainly numbered, with the opulent O’Brate Stadium under construction less than a mile away, and slated to open next season.
When the Cowboys’ current home is gone, it won’t be the walk-off wins or dominant performances Holliday remembers most — though he’s seen a number of special baseball moments.
“I grew up in those old batting cages down there, trying to imitate the players, trying to swing like them,” said Holliday, the son of Tom Holliday, the former OSU head coach and longtime assistant under legendary Gary Ward. “Shagging home runs on the other side of the fence. Sneaking bubble gum out of Coach Ward’s upper left-hand desk drawer.
“Those are the markers in your brain as a little kid of why you came to the field. Obviously, coming to see my dad every day. The memories are countless.”
Holliday keeps his emotions on an even plane when it’s time to coach. He has a job to do, and with a strong finish, his team could bring a few more games to Allie P. as the host site of an NCAA regional in a couple weeks.
Still, the opportunity to honor the stadium’s history has been important to Holliday.
OSU brought back Ward, Pete Incaviglia and other former players, and held a championship ring ceremony for the members of the 1959 title team.
The players have appreciated the opportunity to honor the past as well.
“The funny thing is, Josh never tells you what’s going on that day,” senior Tulsa native Bryce Carter said. “You show up and Gary Ward is walking by, or Pete Incaviglia is talking to you.
“It’s been very special.”
It was a piece of OSU history that had Holliday taking those left-handed swings as a 13-year-old at camp.
“Robin Ventura,” Holliday said. “That’s why I learned to hit left-handed. I wanted to be just like him. I wanted to swing like him and walk like him and talk like him and be like him.
“Seeing Coach Ward back, that means a lot to me. He built this place. Anything that happens here moving forward will be built on the foundation he laid here.”