Thanks largely to the Houston Astros, Navy's baseball team is going to get a new clubhouse.
John McMullen, owner of the Astros and a 1940 graduate of the Na val Academy, agreed to donate $100,000 to Navy baseball as part of his settlement of a grievance filed by the Major League Baseball Players Association.
The money will be used to build a team clubhouse near Bishop Stadium, the Midshipmen's ballpark on the academy grounds.
For years, the team has had locker-room space in nearby Hubbard Hall, known as the "boathouse," sharing it with Navy crew. With women's crew added to Navy's athletic program, all the teams in the boathouse are cramped.
"Construction of the clubhouse is scheduled to begin this summer," said Joe Duff, who is in his 31st season as Navy's coach. "We hope it'll be ready next fall. Women's crew probably will take over our space in the clubhouse."
McMullen decided to donate $100,000 to Navy baseball after the players association took him to task for a 28-day road trip the Astros will take this summer because he agreed to let the Astrodome be used for the Republican National Convention.
"The convention itself runs only from Aug. 17 to 21, but it takes a few weeks to ready it for a event of this magnitude and a little while afterward to restore it for baseball," said Chuck Pool, an Astros official. "To make its bid for the convention, the city needed the Astrodome, simply because it's the best facility."
The Astros, then, will have what amounts to a 26-game trip spanning 28 days, leaving July 27 and returning Aug. 25. The players will spend two nights at home during that period, thanks in part to a day off.
When he agreed to give up the Astrodome, McMullen neglected to consult the players association. The association filed a grievance, but before the matter went to arbitration before a settlement was reached.
In addition to paying first-class airfare for each player to take a family member on the trip to Chicago on Aug. 14-16, McMullen agreed to donate $100,000 to Navy baseball and $25,000 to the Little League Baseball program in New York City.
Often criticized in Houston as an absentee owner, McMullen lives in Montclair, N.J., and has an office in the World Trade Center in New York.