Former baseball player, stadium namesake dies

Hal Schoonover, the namesake of the Kent State baseball team’s Schoonover Stadium, died Saturday after a yearlong struggle to overcome a fall. He was 87.

Schoonover, called “Coach Hal” by baseball players and other members of the Kent State Athletic Department, played on Kent State’s baseball team from 1947 to 1949. Schoonover was elected team captain in 1949.

“We’re all saddened by the loss of Hal,” Kent State baseball coach Scott Stricklin said. “Hal has been a part of the program for 60 years.”

In 1993, Schoonover won the Distinguished Service Award. That same year, the Blue and Gold Room in the M.A.C. Center was named after him and his wife, Julia.

“He was a great baseball player, but he never left the program,” Stricklin said. “The stadium is named after him, and it’s a tough day for all of us.

“We had some great years together, and he was a tremendous person.”

In 2003, Kent State named the baseball stadium after Schoonover following a series of generous donations to the athletic department. The donations allowed the stadium to be renovated to its current state as one of the most state-of-the-art facilities in the Midwest, according to the athletic department press release.

“With the passing of Hal Schoonover, Kent State has lost a great friend and benefactor of the university,” Director of Athletics Laing Kennedy said through the press release. “Hal was involved in all facets of our Athletic Department and he and his wife, Julia, were fans of all of our sports and tremendous supporters of our Hall of Fame. We are fortunate that Hal’s legacy will remain with the university forever through the Schoonover Stadium.”

Schoonover is survived by his wife of 66 years, Julia Camp Schoonover, two sons, Steve and Rick Schoonover and daughter Sheri Merrow.

“My father loved Kent State University,” said Merrow. “He wanted to do all he could for this university.”

Calling hours will be held with the family today from 5 to 8 p.m. at Bokas-Rose Hill Chapel, 3653 W. Market St., in Akron. Visitation will also be held at the church tomorrow at 10 a.m. followed by services at 11 a.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1250 W. Exchange St.

The family has asked that donations be made to the Kent State University’s Schoonover Stadium, P.O. Box 5190, Kent, OH 44242.

Contact reporters Joe Harrington and Jeff Russ at [email protected]. and [email protected].