During ceremonies in Starkville on November 20, 2004, Mississippi State formally broke ground on the Palmeiro Center, a $3.8 million practice facility for baseball and football this now fully functional. The lead gift toward completion of the project was provided by Lynne and Rafael Palmeiro.
The building, which is located just west of Dudy Noble Field, Polk-DeMent Stadium, serves as an indoor practice area for both sports and is air-conditioned and heated. The interior playing area measures 185 feet wide and 368 feet long, and has a ceiling height of 60 feet. The 68,000-square foot floor area accommodates a complete baseball infield within the context of a full football playing field. Retractable batting cages, which may be lowered from the ceiling, and football goal posts are also included in the facility.
Also part of the Center's project will be a $1.5 million, 9,500-square foot banquet facility which will seat up to 350 people. The project's price tag also includes a baseball coaches' office complex, which will be located between the indoor facility and the current baseball stadium. It will allow coach Ron Polk and his staff to headquarter closer to their baseball facilities. A by-product of that move will free additional office space for the women's athletic program in Humphrey Coliseum.
A second phase of construction at the Palmeiro Center is the development of the parking area just west of Humphrey Coliseum, which will service the new practice facility and provide additional paved parking for basketball and football.
Palmeiro has been very active philanthropically in the professional communities in which he has played. He has volunteered at local elementary schools' reading programs, provided the means to build a youth baseball field in Texas, assisted in the ongoing development at various foster and children's homes, and worked with a national brewing company to help increase awareness of underage drinking in Hispanic markets. He has also helped the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation's Walk For Cure program during the past three years, serving as a spokesman for the program and making a $100 contribution for each home run hit.
Born in Havana, Cuba, Palmeiro came to the United State of America as an elementary student, and earned three letters in baseball at Jackson High School in Miami, Fla. A three-time all-America on the college level, he lettered at State from 1983-85. He entered professional baseball following his junior year at MSU after the Chicago Cubs made him the 22nd player selected in the first round of the 1985 draft. He has played 18 seasons at the major league level, breaking into the big leagues in September of 1986. He is just 78 hits short of the magical 3,000-hit barrier and needs only 49 home runs to reach 600 in his career.
Rafael met the former Lynne Walden of Tupelo, Miss., when the two were students at State, and they were married Dec. 14, 1985. They have two children, Patrick Ryne and Preston Conner. The Palmeiro's reside in Colleyville, Texas.