But in 2015 when Marian Ware Director of Athletics Adam Hertz informed him of the plans to renovate Clothier Baseball Field – including a state-of-the-art press box that would bear his name – the loquacious coach was speechless.
"I really think it was the first time in my life I was speechless," he said to a crowd of nearly 100 friends, family, former players, alumni, and supporters of Garnet Athletics at the dedication of the Ernie Prudente Press Box. The event took place prior to the Garnet baseball team’s doubleheader against Dickinson on Saturday morning.
“I can’t believe how nice it is,” Prudente said at the ceremony. “It feels great to know that all of the current and future players will play on such a nice baseball field.”
Prudente first came to the College in fall 1969 as a basketball and baseball head coach and a line coach for the football team. On the baseball diamond, his 216 wins set a program record. His most successful season as coach came in 1985, when his Garnet squad finished with a 27-6 record and made the program's only appearance in the NCAA Tournament. Several members of the 1985 team attended on Saturday.
More that 100 donors contributed to the press box and other updates to the baseball field, including a new seating area below the press box that includes sections of individual stadium seats and bleachers with backs.
The elevated press box will provide a better view of the field for the gameday staff and will house the new broadcasting system. The program secured a grant to purchase new broadcasting equipment that will enhance the viewing experience for those who are watching the games on the Garnet Sports Network from around the country.
“This [facility] is in the upper-echelon of Division III and even stands up to several Division I baseball programs,” said Mike Halpern ’68, a former Garnet baseball player and current volunteer assistant coach who helped lead the effort to honor Prudente.
“Your legacy is much greater than this press box,” said Head Baseball Coach Matt Midkiff. “I hope that you see by all of us here how much you have meant to Swarthmore College, Swarthmore baseball, and we are going to try to make you proud today.”
And to the team and Midkiff’s credit, Prudente left Clothier Field with a smile on his face. In the second game of its doubleheader with Dickinson, the Garnet scored six unanswered runs and held off a late Red Devil rally when catcher Kenji Yoshii '20 threw-out a base-runner at third base for the game-ending out, winning 6-4.