Frank Joranko Field
Albion College baseball came back to the campus in the 1960's after spending several years in and around the Albion community. In 1970, the College settled on the northeast corner of Alumni Field as the on-campus home for Briton baseball. Albion formally opened the facility with a 3-1 victory over Michigan State, a contest featuring a Duncan Beagle one-hitter against the Spartans.
In 1995, the baseball facility was formally named Frank Joranko Field, in honor of retiring baseball coach and Briton alum (1952) Frank Joranko. A three-sport standout (baseball, basketball and football), Joranko participated in an era which some refer to as a "golden age" for the College, both in athletics and academics. Some of Joranko's Albion teammates include former NCAA President Cedric Dempsey; former Cleveland, Ohio, city councilman Arnold Pinckney; retired Eastern Michigan University President Dr. John Porter; retired NYNEX CEO Bill Ferguson; and Dow Corning Chairman Emeritus John Ludington. Joranko is Albion's second Most Valuable Player selection for football in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association, and is the only member of the Albion College Athletic Hall of Fame to be inducted twice, as an athlete and later, as an administrator and coach.
Work on revamping Joranko Field began in earnest in the fall of 1998 and still continues to this day.
Since 1998 Joranko Field has been upgraded with aluminum bleacher seating for up to 200 persons behind a new backstop which stretches from dugout to dugout. Atop the bleachers a press box which accomodates up to eight persons was added. The facility is the operational home to workers handling scoring, scoreboard and public address duties, as well as radio-tv and media needs. The box can handle up to three radio stations, and has both phone and data transmission capabilities.
The dugouts have been expanded, complete with new seating and storage for equipment. Artificial turf has been placed in front of both dugouts to eliminate wear and tear. Eight-foot high fencing extends from the dugouts to the foul poles in left and right field. Behind the first base (visitors) dugout is an enclosed batting cage that features artifical turf, allowing both teams extensive hitting practice prior to games.
Under the direction of grounds supervisor Mark Frever and head coach Scott Carden, the playing surface is one of the best maintained in the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association. An underground irrigation system has been installed and the infield skin has seen significant improvements.
After graduation, Joranko was a teacher and coach in northern Ohio and the Detroit area prior to returning to Albion College in 1973. Joranko served as athletic director from 1974 to 1992; was head football coach from 1973 to 1982; and directed Albion's baseball efforts from 1973 to 1995. Joranko-coached teams won better than 350 contests, over 300 in baseball alone; captured 11 Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association championships, nine in baseball and two in football; and directed teams to three NCAA Division III playoff events, football in 1977 and baseball in 1979 and 1982. When the College and the City of Battle Creek joined as hosts for the NCAA Division III Baseball Championship from 1990 to 1994, Joranko served as tournament director.
The Britons prepare for each season inside the spacious Bernard T. Lomas Fieldhouse which is a major component of the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Recreation and Wellness Center. The facility was upgraded in 2008 with the purchase of the All Star 5000 pitching simulator system.
The video simulator allows the Britons to have "game like" batting practice year round. A video image of a pitcher on the mound is sent to a screen and the All Star 5000 synchronizes the video allowing the pitcher to release the ball in sync every time. The machine is capable of throwing a complete arsenal of pitches up to 90 miles per hour.
The All Star 5000 is fully programable and can be easily operated by one player.