KANSAS CITY -- A large contingent from the University of Central Missouri was on hand for Game 1 of the American League Division Series on Thursday night in support of Astros owner Jim Crane, who played baseball for the school in Warrensburg, Mo., about 55 miles east of Kauffman Stadium.
Crane was a standout pitcher at what used to be Central Missouri State, graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in industrial safety in 1976. He was an honorable mention Division II All-American as a pitcher, going 21-8 with a 2.42 ERA in his collegiate days.
"It's a good school," Crane said. "A lot of hard work went on there, and I played baseball there and really enjoyed that and made a lot of close friends over the years, and a lot of them will be here tonight. I played baseball with them, and they're my friends for life."
Crane has been a staunch supporter of his university, donating $1.2 million in 1998 to refurbish the stadium, James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field. He's planning to visit the school on Friday morning to meet with the school's president and athletic director.
Crane grew up as a fan of the Cardinals and used to park cars at the old Busch Stadium, but in college, he and his buddies attended Royals games.
"We'd jump in the car and head up here," he said. "I remember Nolan Ryan pitching here one night. The stadium was probably one of the best stadiums, and it's still a great stadium."
Brian McTaggart is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Tag's Lines. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.