Building a top-ranked team: Foundation is key to TCU’s baseball fortunes

Lee Tennison 

When Fort Worth financial advisor Lee Lupton Tennison attends a TCU baseball game at Lupton Stadium, he reflects on how his longtime Fort Worth family had a lot to with building the state-of-the-art facility.

Tennison is a grandson of the late C.A. and Marie Lupton, whom the stadium is named after. The Luptons also established the T.J. Brown and C.A. Lupton Foundation that took the lead in building the stadium in the early 2000s.

This weekend, Lupton Stadium is a host site for the NCAA Super Regional. TCU is facing Missouri State in an attempt to earn its fourth consecutive berth to the College World Series in Omaha.

According to Tennison, C.A. Lupton was very passionate about baseball.

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“My granddad never played baseball, but he was a diehard baseball fan,” he said.

Lupton was a Virginia native who moved to Fort Worth in 1905 to establish a Coca Cola business. But he needed $5,000 to launch it. Lupton received the $5,000 from a local businessman Tom Brown.

“He had everything he needed to start the business, but was short $5, 000,” Tennison said. “He went all over town to try to get the money, but everybody laughed at him like the Hula Hoop. But he became friends with a bachelor named Tom Brown who was an extraordinarily nice guy and very philanthropic. He loaned my grandad the $5,000 to get the Coca Cola Bottling Plant on Fort Worth’s Near Southside up and running.”

Lupton and Brown became the closest of friends. When Lupton’s business prospered and he began a philanthropic foundation, he opted to add Brown’s name.

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“My granddad put Tom Brown’s name on the foundation simply because none of it would have ever happened had grandad not have gotten that $5,000 from Tom Brown,” Tennison said. “They were joined at the hip friends. They owned part of the Fort Worth Cats [baseball team] together. They did everything together.

“I never had the chance to meet Tom Brown, but my mom [Gloria Lupton Tennison] talked about what a great man he was. He was the type of guy who you could come up to and say, ‘Hey, I need a buck,’ and he’d give you five.”

Gloria Lupton Tennison, who died in 1991, ran the Lupton-Brown Foundation for many years. Today, Tennison, his sister Kit Moncrief, his cousin state Rep. Charlie Geren, his cousin Tav Holmes and former TCU Chancellor Bill Tucker run the Brown-Lupton Foundation.

The foundation has given to a wide variety of causes over the years ranging from Cooks Children’s Hospital to the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

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“It’s a labor of love to be blessed with the ability to do the things that we do,” Tennison said.

The Brown-Lupton Foundation came on board with building the Charlie [C.A.] and Marie Lupton Stadium in the early 2000s, Tennison said, after he was approached by Mike Luttrell. Luttrell, a 1970s TCU running back, had attended a meeting with other TCU baseball enthusiasts (including former TCU baseball coach Rogers Williams) who wanted to see dramatic improvements to TCU’s baseball field.

The Brown-Lupton Foundation responded in a big way. According to TCU, the stadium was named after the Luptons following a $2 million gift from the Brown-Lupton Foundation.

Lupton Stadium opened in 2003 and replaced the TCU Diamond, the Horned Frogs’ home from 1962 to 2002. The TCU Diamond was adjacent to Amon G. Carter Stadium and Schollmaier Arena where the Sam Baugh Indoor Practice Facility is now located.

The stadium, which has undergone significant renovations in recent years, offers many amenities to both players and fans. There’s a spacious home club house located down the left field line. The clubhouse features a team lounge, a class room and state-of-the-art training room with an adjacent rehab room.

The addition of the Player Development Center offers four full length batting cages and a turf area for practicing. It also offers a unique two-deck structure as well as four luxury suites that allow fans to be close to the action.

The stadium seats 4,500 fans comfortably and features two patios on each baseline for corporate events or birthday parties.

TCU fans have witnessed college baseball in dramatic fashion at the stadium in recent years. The Horned Frogs advanced to the College World Series in 2010, seven years after the stadium opened. Current head coach Jim Schlossnagle came on board in 2004. .

The Horned Frogs also advanced to the College World Series in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Tennison holds firm to a belief that the building of a state-of-the-art Lupton Stadium has a lot to do with TCU becoming a nationally prominent baseball program.

“One of the stats that we saw was: When you build a stadium, you’ll be in the College World Series in seven years,” Tennison said. “It was a stat that I couldn’t believe. But when I saw it, I said to Kit [Moncrief], ‘That would be fun.’ But sure enough there [in the College World Series] we were.”