San Diego State's baseball team has had numerous rallies in its 52-year history, but none quite like the one it had Saturday afternoon at Charlie Smith Field.
There were no runs, no hits and no men left on base, but the rally held to determine the baseball program's standing in the community netted approximately 3,500 people.
An anonymous donor, who pledged an unspecified but significant amount of money to build a 4,000-seat baseball stadium, and Athletic Director Fred Miller wanted to know what kind of support SDSU baseball had in the community.
Baseball, as well as a number of other sports at SDSU, have been hit with financial cuts because of an athletic department deficit exceeding $500,000. There has been talk of discontinuing the baseball program.
"We were geared up for maybe a thousand people, and we had about 3,200," said an ecstatic Jim Dietz, SDSU's coach. "We had enough sign-up sheets for 3,200, and we ran out. I was stunned. It went way beyond my expectations."
Dietz added that there were about 2,000 additional pieces of mail on his desk, many of which were from fans indicating they could not attend because of other commitments.
The 2 1/2-hour program included the unveiling of the stadium plans, a memorabilia stand, a professionally-edited highlight video and the appearances of many former Aztecs, including Tony Gwynn of the Padres and the Cleveland Indians' Bud Black.
Asked if the turnout surprised him, Black said, "In a way yes. In a way no. Nothing Jim does surprises me."
Said Gwynn, "I understand that college is now a business . . . but for them to even consider giving up baseball is really tough to swallow."