When the Keydet baseball team takes the field in spring 2024, not only will the field have a fresh new look, but it will also bear a new name: Lamore Field, named in honor of Michael Lamore ’85, whose exceptional generosity made the renovations possible.
“We are excited to officially name the VMI baseball field Lamore Field at Gray-Minor Stadium, a well-deserved recognition of Mike’s support for the program,” said Maj. Gen. Cedric T. Wins ’85, superintendent.
“When you consider that a former VMI baseball player and a member of the great VMI Class of 1985 provided such significant support for current and future teams, it’s incredible. It is evidence of the enduring VMI spirit, the realization of how VMI shapes the success of our graduates, and how much they attribute their success to the VMI experience.”
Over summer and early fall 2023, the natural grass surface at Gray-Minor Stadium was stripped bare and replaced with all-weather AstroTurf, thus creating an all-weather playing surface that can withstand the vicissitudes of late winter and early spring in Virginia.
For Lamore, whose memories of playing baseball at VMI include the team serving as the de facto grounds crew to get the field in playable condition after a heavy spring rain, the project is a way to give back to the place—and the program—that gave him so much.
“I’ve been really fortunate,” Lamore commented. “I can’t think of a better thing to do than to support the growth of the next generation of leaders, which VMI is going to develop.”
Four decades ago, Lamore was just like any other NCAA athlete at VMI—juggling academics, athletics, and military obligations—but even then, his ferocious determination to succeed was evident. A standout baseball player who is still tied for the No. 4 rank in all-time batting average and No. 3 in all-time on-base percentage 38 years out from graduation, Lamore was a civil engineering major wearing academic stars and so determined to keep his grades up that he’d take textbooks and a flashlight with him on the bus when the team traveled to away games.
Now a resident of Greensboro, North Carolina, Lamore described himself as a “basic middle-class kid” growing up in a military family in Virginia Beach, Virginia. His talent for athletics was evident from an early age, and by the time he entered First Colonial High School, he was playing both football and baseball, the latter becoming his primary sport under the direction of one of his first great mentors, Norbie Wilson, then the high school’s head baseball coach.
“[Wilson] pulled the baseball drive out of me,” Lamore commented.
The seeds of Lamore’s future as a Keydet were sown early. He was named first team All Tidewater, and during his senior year, the First Colonial team finished fourth in the state.
He soon came to the attention of Donnie White ’65, who was about to become head baseball coach at VMI. In spring 1981, he recruited both Lamore and Bryan Augsburger ’85 to play at VMI. Both had other offers, but White’s magnetism and ability to sell the VMI experience just couldn’t be denied.
“[White] was a great, great man,” Lamore recalled. “And you could tell that he was going to turn the baseball program around.”
For the 18-year-old Lamore, it was a heady spring and summer. With college plans made, he could focus on playing his favorite sport. Soon, he and other players, many of whom he’d known for a decade, formed a Palomino League team.
“It was an incredible summer league team,” he recalled. “We were off the charts good.” Victory after victory came the team’s way in district, state, and regional tournaments—and by August, members of the team were packing their bags to play in the Palomino World Series, held in San Jose, California.
There was just one problem: The day of the Palomino World Series was the day before matriculation at VMI. Thinking that a late arrival might be possible, Lamore reached out to White, who in turn contacted Lt. Gen. Sam S. Walker ’45, then superintendent. Walker’s decision was firm: Big game or no big game, Lamore had to matriculate on the same day as the rest of the Rat Mass.
What happened that day has been etched in Lamore’s mind ever since. Lamore’s team won the Palomino World Series, but there was no time to celebrate or even let that incredible triumph sink in—Lamore had a cross-continental red-eye flight in front of him.
“My Dad picked me up at the airport when landing that morning, and we drove straight to Lexington,” Lamore recounted. “I was the second-to-last rat to matriculate. I showed up having just been in the paper and on the news in San Jose as a World Series player. Within 15 minutes of being dropped off, the VMI cadre took me downstairs, shaved my head, and started screaming at me. … I went from being a celebrity to being a rat (the lowest thing ever) in a matter of six hours.”
The leveling effect of the Rat Line was harsh at the time, but today, Lamore can see its value. “One of the reasons I have great feelings about VMI is because it really helps you mold yourself from a high school kid who thinks they know more than they do into somebody who is actually responsible. The VMI education pounds the weaknesses out of you and gets rid of the baggage,” he said.
Academically, Lamore discovered an aptitude for civil engineering almost from the start of his cadetship. He’d learned that no one yells at rats if they’re studying outside of barracks, so he’d relocate to an academic building in the evenings. “I just developed good study habits early on.”
Dedicating himself to academics just as much as to baseball paid dividends, and Lamore quickly came to respect VMI’s high academic standards and its honor system. Continuing to excel on the playing field as he did in the classroom, Lamore was named Southern Conference Freshman of the Year at the conclusion of his rat year.
With such accomplishments, Lamore had every right to contemplate professional baseball—and he did. But sometime around his 2nd Class year, Lamore had a realization: A VMI diploma and degree in civil engineering offered a promising future—and getting drafted to play professional baseball is iffy at best, with years often spent in the minor leagues.
“I was doing well in civil engineering,” he said. “I was second in my civil engineering class and carrying a 3.5 [accumulative grade point average], wearing academic stars. I saw that there was probably greater potential long term in [civil engineering].”
After graduating from VMI, Lamore accepted a position in oil and gas production with Exxon Corp., now ExxonMobil. Later, Lamore’s professional career intersected with those of several VMI alumni. Lamore held a vice president position with a company called ETI, owned by Jim Wheat ’41, which was later sold to Tyco International. Lamore stayed on with Tyco for a decade after the company was sold and often engaged with VMI alumni in related companies.
“I can’t think of a better thing to do than to support the growth of the next generation of leaders, which VMI is going to develop.”Michael Lamore ’85
“I found that when doing business with other VMI alumni, they’re quick to give you the work and contracts, but you better not mess them up,” Lamore stated.
Next, Lamore took a vice president position with Horne Engineering to help Darryl Horne ’82, whom Lamore described as “another great VMI alumnus,” with some business challenges at his company. By the time he’d concluded the work for Horne Engineering, the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, had forever changed Americans’ view of security.
In the aftermath of a changed world, Lamore founded his own company, Barrier1 Systems, Inc., which designed and manufactured high-security robust barriers certified to stop 15,000-pound vehicles at 50 miles per hour. The business expanded over 18 years under Lamore’s leadership, and barriers were placed in 11 countries. This included Department of Defense facilities, nuclear plants, critical infrastructure, stadiums, airports, police agencies, presidential protection, and others. More than eight types of robust security barriers were certified, and seven patents were issued.
Three years ago, Lamore sold Barrier1 Systems, Inc., to a private equity firm. Since then, he’s been re-focusing his efforts on commercial real estate development, the electric vehicle charging industry, and spending time with his family—wife Susan and children, Andrew, Matthew, and Maria.
For Lamore, giving back to VMI is of paramount importance, and the baseball field project is just one of his many areas of focus. He’s a scholarship donor whose generosity supports both baseball players and cadets studying civil and environmental engineering. What’s more, each year during the past decade, Lamore has come to post to teach a two-hour civil engineering seminar for 1st Class cadets.
“I really teach them about industry, entrepreneurship, and how I built Barrier1 Systems. There are a lot of ‘lessons learned,’” he commented. “We walk through all kinds of things that graduates may face and, so, it’s more real-world than academics.”
The VMI education was challenging, with life lessons that carried forward long after graduation. “I really believe that if you have some way to give back to the school and help, I think it’s a great thing to do,” Lamore noted. “Whether it’s financial support, or if it’s teaching a class, or sponsoring a Keydet that needs a summer job—those are all good things.”
Midway through the fall 2023 semester, work on the baseball field was completed. For Lamore, seeing players on the field will be the highlight of his spring.
“I don’t think there’s a better place to give back to than VMI and its mission to develop responsible future leaders, which our country needs.”
"As a former scholarship baseball player, seeing this project come to life is really special. The Keydet Club values our relationship with Susan and Mike Lamore. Both have been believers in VMI’s vision for this project, and we are so thankful for their lead gift in support of this enhancement. The naming of the facility to Lamore Field at Gray-Minor Stadium is a deserving tribute to Mike and Susan and honors their benevolence and generosity to the VMI baseball program."Andrew Deal '12
Keydet Club Chief Operating Officer
VMI Alumni Agencies Chief Advancement Officer
Mary Price Development Writer/Communications Specialist
The development writer plays a key role in producing advancement communications. This role imagines, creates, and produces a variety of written communication to inspire donors to make gifts benefiting VMI. Utilizing journalistic features and storytelling, the development writer will produce content for areas such as Annual Giving, stewardship, and gift planning.