|Glory Years -- National Prominence for a Local Powerhouse|
St. John's Athletics
For more than 100 years, St. John's University has carried a proud tradition in intercollegiate athletics.
St. John's started its intercollegiate program in 1907 with its men's basketball program. In the early days, the "Wonder Five" led that program to prominence. In 1923, a football program was started and that program won three Metropolitan Conference Championships in its first eight years of existence.
It was around that time that then-director of athletics and football coach Ray Lynch had his players wear red uniforms in games. The local media picked up on it, and dubbed the St. John's athletic teams, the Red Men.
James "Buck" Freeman graduated from St. John's in 1927, and was named men's basketball coach, guiding that team for nine years and compiling a 177-31 record. During his time, he guided the famed St. John's "Wonder Five" to an 88-8 record in his first four seasons and brought the University to national prominence.
Walter McLaughlin took over as director of athletics during a time when the St. John's baseball program established itself as one of the best in the country, reaching the College World Series in 1949, 1960, 1966 and 1968. Three of those baseball teams were coached by Jack Kaiser, who later became athletic director in 1973. Kaiser served in that role until 1995, during which time the University added a women's program in the 1974-75 academic year, with women's basketball, fencing, swimming and tennis being offered.
The program continued to develop and change-including a new nickname, the Red Storm, in the early '90s-to this day. St. John's has established its athletic programs as one of the strongest in the East, and today, the programs continue to succeed. St. John's student-athletes have the benefit of competing in some of the best venues in the country.
Belson Stadium, the 2,300-seat field, is the home of the men's and women's soccer programs. Belson Stadium was primarily funded by a $6 million gift from Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Belson, Esq. The new stadium will eventually include a press box, private suites and media room.
Carnesecca Arena, a 5,602-seat indoor facility which houses the Athletic Department administrative offices, is home to the St. John's men's and women's basketball teams, as well as the volleyball team. Since its opening 40 years ago, the building has had its lighting and sound system replaced, and a new video scoreboard and floor have been installed since 2008.
The men's basketball team plays several of its home games at Carnesecca Arena but spends the most of its season playing at "The World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden.
In the summer of 2000, The Ballpark at St. John's opened. Then home to the Queens Kings, a Class A affiliate of the New York Mets, the field is a 3,500-seat park that is one of the newest and best baseball-only facilities on the college level. The facility was renamed for longtime Director of Athletics and Hall of Fame baseball coach Jack Kaiser in a ceremony in May 2007.
The softball team began play on its own field during the 2000 season, with the opening of Red Storm Field, near the University dormitories.