UF Baseball: Alfred A. McKethan to Follow Gators to Florida Ballpark
Courtesy of UF Athletic Association
Thanks to the continued generosity of the family of Alfred A. McKethan, the University Athletic Association will carry the namesake of McKethan Stadium forward to their new ballpark, as the University of Florida Board of Trustees approved that from this day forward, Florida Ballpark’s playing surface will be known as Alfred A. McKethan Field.
“The McKethan family name has been synonymous with Gators Baseball for decades, and it is only fitting that the name will continue to have a presence at our new ballpark,” said Athletic Director Scott Stricklin. “We are very appreciative of their longtime generosity and support of the program, and we look forward to the next chapter of Gators Baseball.”
Mr. McKethan’s family name became synonymous with Florida Baseball in 1987, when he led the fundraising efforts for $2.4 million worth of construction and refurbishment costs – which included a 2,500-seat grandstand with 800 chair backs, a new press box, concession stands, and restrooms – around Perry Field (the Gators’ home ballpark since 1949). McKethan, who was chairman of the board of Brooksville’s Sun Bank & Trust at the time, presented the University Athletic Association with just over 10,000 shares of Sun Bank stock, which amounted to a $500,000 donation. Matching funds from the state and McKethan’s fellow Bull Gator Club members covered the remaining costs.
“Baseball always had been my first love. The facility we have at home (Emerson Field at Hernando High School) looked better than at the university,” McKethan told The Tampa Tribune for its Feb. 23, 1988 story that detailed the project’s completion. “I challenged fellow (Bull Gator Club) members to match me dollar for dollar and let us bring baseball at Florida to the level with football and basketball facilities.”
Mr. McKethan, a major benefactor to the University of Florida in many ways throughout his lifetime, also donated $300,000 in the fall of 1996, which allowed the UAA to rebuild McKethan Stadium’s press box.
Those construction projects, among other renovations following the program’s first season at McKethan Stadium in 1988, made “The Mac” one of the best stadiums in college baseball. When Baseball America released a list of the Best College Baseball Stadiums in its January 1998 magazine issue, McKethan Stadium was ranked No. 7 nationally and No. 1 in the state of Florida.
“Our entire family greatly valued an opportunity to participate in this exciting project to further support Gators Baseball,” said Jimmy Kimbrough, McKethan’s grandson. “(Our family) is extremely pleased UF has decided Alfred McKethan’s commitment to his alma mater and Gators baseball will not be forgotten.”
Work on the estimated $65-million Florida Ballpark is expected to conclude later this month, and demolition of McKethan Stadium is tentatively scheduled for July.
More About Alfred A. McKethan (1908-2002)
A native Floridian, Alfred A. McKethan distinguished himself in his profession and service to the state of Florida. McKethan served as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Sun Bank & Trust Company (formerly Hernando State Bank) from 1942 until his retirement in 1994.
At the age of 38, McKethan became the youngest president of the Florida Bankers Association. Along with his brother, John W. McKethan, he established the Brooksville Rock Company, which later became known as the Florida Mining and Materials Corporation.
Mr. McKethan was also a citrus grower, serving as the Director and Chairman of the Brooksville Citrus Growers Association for 40 years, and as Director of the Florida Citrus Exchange for 15 years. He was a board member and Chairman for the Florida State Road Department, and was the first Chairman of the Southwest Florida Water Management District. In addition, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay was, in part, a product of McKethan’s works, as was the initial planning of the Florida Turnpike.
After he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida as an honors graduate in 1931, McKethan maintained close ties as an alumnus. In 1981, it was McKethan who became the first eminent scholar under a new law that provided matching funds from the state to create chairs at Florida universities if the private sector donated $600,000. McKethan made his donation to UF’s College of Business Administration. Also active on campus, McKethan was a member of the President’s Council, a long-time Bull Gator, and eventually became a Distinguished Director of Gator Boosters.
An avid baseball fan, McKethan attended Gators games year in and year out.
“When you talk of Gator spirit and love for the University,” said former Florida football coach Steve Spurrier, “Alfred McKethan embodies what that is all about.”
Mr. McKethan passed away in April of 2002, at the age of 93, and Gators players and coaches honored him with black A.A.M. patches on their hats. His initials were also put above the scoreboard at the stadium bearing his name.
Florida’s Unprecedented Success at McKethan Stadium
The Gators finished with a 911-303 (.750) record in 33 seasons of baseball at McKethan Stadium. Over the course of those 1,214 games, Florida hosted the 1989 SEC Tournament, 16 NCAA Regionals, and nine NCAA Super Regionals at The Mac.
Florida also clinched 10 of its 11 College World Series berths from 1988-2020 with victories at McKethan Stadium.
The Gators went undefeated in nine NCAA Regionals (denoted by * below) and swept four NCAA Super Regionals (denoted by ^ below) hosted at McKethan Stadium.
1989, 1991*, 1992, 1996*, 1998, 2002, 2005*, 2009*, 2010*, 2011*, 2012*, 2014, 2015*, 2016*, 2017, 2018
2005^, 2009, 2010^, 2011, 2012^, 2015^, 2016, 2017, 2018
CWS Berths Clinched
1991, 1996, 1998, 2005, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018