$2.5M gift a home run for Falcon baseball
US Air Force Academy, Colo. — A $2.5 million donation to the Air Force Academy Foundation and Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation in support of the Academy’s baseball program will help transform the fan experience at Falcon Field.
The Erdle family made the gift — the largest ever donated in support of Falcon baseball — in honor and remembrance of Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Philip J. Erdle, a career Air Force officer who taught and coached at the Academy. The Erdle family’s generosity will be recognized and celebrated on the field during the home football game on October 1 against Navy.
“The renovation of Falcon Field has been identified as a top priority and critical to the continued and future success of the Air Force baseball program,” says Director of Athletics Nathan Pine. “We cannot thank the Erdle family enough for stepping forward and making this important lead gift. The impact will be felt throughout the athletic department and will inspire other baseball alumni and supporters to step forward in this effort. We appreciate the Erdle family’s leadership and generosity with this transformational contribution.”
The renovation will bring a modern concourse to Falcon Field with permanent concessions and restrooms, a new press box and seating, new team dugouts along with locker rooms for the visiting team and umpires. The estimated $7 million project will be boosted by this important lead gift. Conceptual design work is already underway.
The Falcon Field renovation is among the key projects within the athletics component of the Defining Our Future campaign. The campaign publicly launched in 2021 in support of the Air Force Academy and its mission to develop leaders of character for the Air Force, Space Force and nation. It is being carried out by the Air Force Academy Foundation and the Association of Graduates in partnership with the Air Force Academy Athletic Corporation.
The donation comes months after the baseball program won its first Mountain West Conference title and made its first postseason appearance since 1969.
“I would like to personally thank Carolyn, Mick and the entire Erdle family for this instrumental investment in Air Force baseball and our cadet athletes,” says Maj. (Ret.) Mike Kazlausky ’91, head baseball coach. “We preach in our baseball program that we will always lead from the front and this commitment could not be a better example of that. Our athletic department and program are very fortunate to have such invested alumni and supporters as the Erdle family. We salute you. .”
Gen. Erdle was an entrepreneur, a philanthropist and a 1952 graduate of the US Military Academy. He flew dozens of aircraft during his career including the F-84, F-100 and T-33. Later he would earn a master’s degree from the University of Michigan and a doctorate from the University of Colorado.
His career at the Academy included teaching mechanics, coaching baseball, serving as an NCAA representative and working as vice dean of the faculty.
Following his retirement, Gen. Erdle continued to have an impact on the Academy by establishing and managing endowed professor chairs and co-founding the Academy Research and Development Institute, where he served as CEO and president.
“My father would be thrilled to know that, as a result of his lifetime of hard work, the baseball program at the Academy would be so greatly impacted,” says Col. (Ret.) Mick Erdle ’76 and General Erdle’s son. “Dad is well known at the Academy for his work in academics, but few are aware of his deep devotion to Falcon athletics, including baseball, football, and the NCAA…he was even a wrestling referee! He was a record-setting first baseman.” at West Point, coached by his older brother who had been drafted by the Red Sox. He had a great gift for coaching, and baseball was his real love. jets and endured painful skin grafts on his badly burned legs to defy the odds to both walk and run again, eventually returning to flying and, of course, his squadron softball team…where he instinctively slid into home, tearing off the grafts, and getting an earful from the flight surgeon (…I never heard whether he was safe!) Dad’s assignment to the brand-new Air Force Academy in 1960 was perfect, for him and for the Air Force, where he could teach and coach, raise a family , and make an incredible impact on thousands of Air Force leaders gratifying for Mom and our entire family knowing that his impact on Air Force athletics will be remembered and appreciated for generations to come.”
lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Gould ’76, CEO of the Association of Graduates and the Air Force Academy Foundation, is excited for what this gift means for Falcon baseball.
“With their generous lead gift to support the Falcon baseball program, the Erdle family is helping raise the bar at Falcon Field and set a great example for others,” Gen. Gold says. “We couldn’t be more proud of our Long Blue Line’s ongoing commitment to enhancing the cadet experience and ensuring that we achieved excellence in all we do, including through the impact of philanthropy on the Academy mission. The Erdle family with this wonderful gift is helping to define the future of not just Falcon baseball but also the one and only United States Air Force Academy.”
To learn more about the Defining our Future campaign, visit DefiningOurFuture.org. If you are interested in learning more about the renovation of Falcon Field, or supporting the baseball program, please contact the Falcon Athletic Fund at 719-333-4545 or firstname.lastname@example.org.