Hoy Field, the home of Cornell baseball since 1922, is slated to move from its current location on Central Campus to agricultural parcels near the intersection of Ellis Hollow Road and Game Farm Road, as revealed in plans proposed by the University last month.
The proposed site lies east of the East Hill Plaza, the Reis Tennis Center and the Oxley Equestrian Center — much more remote than the current, centrally located field.
Though the new Hoy Field would lack the convenience of its predecessor, it would boast a 15,160 square-foot support building to house locker rooms, batting cages and a press box while matching the 500 seat occupancy of the current site. The field would use synthetic turf, and it could accommodate up to 80 parking spaces.
The proposed move allows for the construction of other buildings on Central Campus while upgrading the facilities of the field to be in line with other Division I programs.
Prior to this development, the future of Hoy Field was murky. The University had spent the past few decades erecting new buildings in the direct vicinity of Hoy Field, with the most notable examples being Rhodes Hall in 1990 and Bill and Melinda Gates Hall in 2014. These developments reduced the feasibility of keeping a baseball field in the middle of campus, with players routinely hitting foul balls off the adjacent Gates hall.
As early as 2008, the University indicated its plans to relocate Hoy Field and replace it with “Hoy Green,” a formal green space that could include a new academic building and a redesigned pedestrian walkways and streets.
If the plan is approved in the coming months, construction would commence at the start of 2022 in preparation for the new field’s use starting in spring 2023. Should the plan receive approval, the departure of Hoy Field from its current location would leave behind a rich history that accumulated over the course of nearly a century.
The origin of Hoy Field comes from its namesake, David “Davy” Hoy ’91, University registrar and dedicated advisor to the baseball team for 30 years. Hoy advocated the move from Percy Field, which stood on the current campus of Ithaca High School, to Central Campus. When the new field was built in 1922, it was named in honor of Hoy.
Perhaps the most significant event in Hoy Field’s history took place early in its existence. All-time baseball great Lou Gehrig left his mark at Hoy Field despite playing only a single season of collegiate baseball at Columbia.
During a contest between the Red and the Lions in April 1923, Gehrig, undeterred by the fact that only one player before him recorded a home run at Hoy Field, hit the most notable homer in Hoy Field’s history.
“That right field at Cornell had a high fence, then there was a road back of it, then a forest,” recalled George Moisten, Columbia’s second baseman and Gehrig’s teammate. “Lou lifted his home run into the forest. I looked over at Coach Coakley, sitting near me on the bench, and he was slapping his head in wonder.”
That legendary home run — purported to be the longest in Hoy Field’s history — powered Columbia to an 8-3 victory over Cornell that day. Not only did Gehrig hit a triple in addition to his homer, but he also stymied the Red’s bats, striking out a whopping 10 batters in six innings.
Despite the increasing encroachment of other University building projects, there was still hope that Hoy Field would retain its spot on Central Campus. The grass surface was replaced by AstroTurf in 2007, and Cornell Athletics recently undertook an improvement project on the field in 2017. But with the University now taking action to complete the move, the days for the current iteration of Hoy Field appear to be numbered.