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Gary Haas was age 22, cutting grass, working in factories, and bouncing around at jobs when Bowling Green State University's baseball program saw him play in a Toledo summer baseball league.
He was offered a scholarship.
The opportunity allowed him to take classes which led to a business administration degree which helped Mr. Haas later become vice president of contracts and administration for Rudolph/Libbe Inc.
The Perrysburg resident felt the need to give back and did so with a $1 million donation to the BGSU baseball program.
"Without a scholarship, I came from humble beginnings and couldn't afford college," he said. "I've been very fortunate to have a successful baseball career and successful professional business career. I thought it was the right thing to give back to the school."
While at BGSU Mr. Haas was an All-Mid American Conference shortstop and helped the team win the 1972 MAC championship and NCAA Regional game. He was commuting from Perrysburg throughout his college career.
His $1 million donation is the largest gift ever given to BGSU athletics by a former student athlete.
"I felt I needed to give back, I hope I can set the bar for other former athletes to give back," Mr. Haas said.
He has made donations for new uniforms and work to the dugouts in the past. Giving back is easy for Mr. Haas because his relationship with head coach Danny Schmitz. Mr. Haas trusts the coach will use the money to help the program and help in recruiting.
"Gary bleeds Orange and Brown, and this gift shows his love for the university and our baseball program," Mr. Schmitz said. "I'm very excited for the program, because Gary's gift will absolutely take BGSU baseball to new heights. We can't thank him enough for his generosity and support."
After this season, the two, among others, will discuss possibly using the money for artificial turf or a brick facade behind the backstop.
"Without that (scholarship), I never could have been so successful," Mr. Haas said.
Contact Matt Thompson at: email@example.com, 419-356-8786, or on Twitter at @mthompson25.