The home-field lights will come on tonight for the first time in the 121-year history of Cal baseball.
Coach David Esquer proudly points to the place where a snazzy new scoreboard complete with a modern video board that resembles those at Pacific-12 Conference powers Stanford and UCLA soon will hang in left-center at Evans Diamond in Berkeley.
"We're still a little bit of a construction zone," Esquer said Wednesday, before his team's first practice under the lights. "But we didn't think we'd be here a couple years ago, for sure."
Esquer couldn't have envisioned such progress for his team two springs ago, when supporters came through with the money to save a sport that had been set for elimination by the Cal administration in a cost-cutting move.
So, the first pitch tonight will be a moment to celebrate for a college baseball program that avoided being cut thanks to tireless fundraising work. Donors made this latest project happen, too, putting their names on a promissory note in the loan.
Both the university and Cal's baseball foundation took out $1 million loans for the lights, and the baseball team plans to pay back the money with revenue from what it hopes are higher ticket sales and advertising.
Cal baseball has been around since 1892 and has not played a night game at home.
"I think we've plugged up a little bit of a competitive disadvantage," Esquer said. "Figuratively, it's a big statement. Out there, you show that Cal baseball is not just in survive mode, but we're in thrive mode."
Cal will put its 7-0 home record on the line in its Pac-12 opener against USC.
Not only will the lights allow more people among the working crowd to attend games, the thought is that even kids playing Little League on weekends will have the option of catching a Cal contest later in the day.
Sun Belt expanding
Two of the most dominant programs in the Football Championship Subdivision are moving up to Football Bowl Subdivision.
Georgia Southern and Appalachian State announced that their athletic programs are leaving the Southern Conference to join the Sun Belt Conference in 2014.
Idaho and New Mexico also announced they had accepted an invitation to join the Sun Belt in football only next year.
Logano, Hamlin still at it
Team owner Roger Penske said Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin exchanged text messages since their final-lap crash at Fontana on Sunday that left Hamlin hospitalized with a fractured vertebra and will sideline him for six weeks.
Hamlin, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, acknowledged he exchanged text messages with Logano. "It didn't go well," Hamlin said.
Former Puerto Rican world champion boxer Wilfredo Gomez is in critical condition in a hospital following respiratory failure.
Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, two-time Eclipse Award-winning filly Royal Delta and defending champion Monterosso headline a standout international field of 13 entered for Saturday's $10 million Dubai World Cup the world's richest horse race.