Ball Star

Central Missouri gets to play in Astros home park

Updated: 2013-02-17T06:03:09Z

By PETE GRATHOFF

The Kansas City Star

Houston Astros owner Jim Crane, a Central Missouri graduate, was chosen as one of 48 former student-athletes to be honored as a member of the NCAA Division II 40th Anniversary Tribute Team.

The tribute team highlights one male and one female student-athlete from each of Division II's 23 current conferences, plus two at-large nominees.

Crane, who played baseball for the Mules from 1973-76, was selected as a MIAA representative along with Truman State volleyball player Teri Clemens (1974-78).

Although Crane made it big in the freight business, he never forgot his alma mater. In 1998, Crane donated $1.2 million in 1998 to refurbish the Mules’ stadium, James R. Crane Stadium at Robert N. Tompkins Field.

And just last week, the Astros played host to the inaugural “Astros in Action Division II Invitational” at Minute Maid Park.

Of course, Central Missouri was in the tournament, along with Emporia State and four schools from Texas (Incarnate Word, Abilene Christian, Tarleton State and Texas A&M-Kingsville) and two from Arkansas (Arkansas Monticello and Arkansas Tech).

"It's fun to try to give a little something back," Crane told MLB.com. "I was fortunate I had a good run there and enjoyed it, and (baseball) kind of got me through college and got me down the road. It's about giving something back and giving somebody some opportunities."

Central Missouri lost the opener 4-1 to Texas A&M-Kingsville, but won its next three games, beating Abilene Christian 8-1, Arkansas Tech 10-4 and Arkansas Monticello 2-1.

Crane was thrilled to see the Mules’ logo on the scoreboard in Houston. "It's great to see that logo up there," Crane told MLB.com. "You never thought you'd see that."

To reach Pete Grathoff, send email to pgrathoff@kcstar.com

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