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Baseball Team unveils big mural

March 17, 2004

by Eric Wilson

Artist Ted Watts, of Oswego at Eck Stadium mural unveiling.

The WSU Sunflower -- One more tribute to the Shocker baseball tradition was unveiled prior to Saturday's game against Sam Houston State at Eck Stadium, after a wait of nearly a year.

A mural (78 feet 8 inches by 10 feet), which pays tribute to past Shocker stars and great moments in Wichita State baseball history, is installed on the concourse at Eck Stadium opposite Hap Bledsoe Plaza. The mural includes every Shocker All-American and has images devoted to the 1989 College World Series championship team. It was the brainchild of head coach Gene Stephenson.

"It's a great tribute to the many great moments we've had," Stephenson said.

The mural, created by nationally known sports artist Ted Watts, of Oswego, Kan., is the largest on-campus sports-art mural created by Watts, and the largest in the country. Watts spent 18 months on the mural.

"What I wanted to do was have the setting where most people say, 'Hey, I sat there,' or 'I've driven by and seen that press box,'" Watts said. "Murals are supposed to tell stories. The site is part of the story."

The mural was originally scheduled to be unveiled in last May, but the piece took longer than expected to complete.

Athletic Director Jim Schaus said there are not many teams in college baseball with a tradition that would warrant a mural such as this. The mural also adds to Eck Stadium, he said.

"It would be hard to imagine how we could ever improve on the best on-campus facility in college baseball, but I think we did," Schaus said.

Because of the way the mural is constructed, it will be possible to update it in the future. This is something that appeals to Stephenson. "It's not something that's going to become outdated," he said.

The mural is a combination of art and computer technology. Watts painted the feature elements in his studio in Oswego. The finished paintings were then digitally scanned and arranged as a whole on computers.

The mural was supported financially by the Diane Cline family and commissioned as a tribute to the late Grant Davis, a longtime Shocker baseball fan.

- Cori Dodds contributing