I am the Head Groundskeeper
For the Springfield Cardinals (MiLB Double-A)
What field care product/piece of equipment could you not live without? With warm-season turf to HGT Bluegrass renovations rapidly approaching, our sprayer will be very vital to our program.
Complete this sentence: “If I weren’t a field care pro, I would be.” Coaching or raising Angus cattle on my family’s farm in Missouri.
What’s your favorite sports movie and why? “Field of Dreams.” I really like the father/son undertone throughout the movie and the magnificent baseball field tucked away in the middle of a cornfield.
What path led you to a career in sports field management? I grew up on a farm in Missouri and loved the outdoors. I also enjoyed sports, especially baseball. After discovering my passion, I was inspired to pursue a career in sports turf management and was ultimately able to combine the two.
What types of field and turf areas are you responsible for? I’m responsible for the sand-base playing surface at Hammons Field, which was fully renovated last fall. I also handle the grounds that surround the stadium, including landscape areas and turf.
What are the biggest challenges in maintaining the facility? Hammons Field is home to both the Missouri State Bears and the Springfield Cardinals. The spring is always hectic, especially in April and May, when both teams’ seasons overlap. Scheduling our routine maintenance and balancing with time for practice is often difficult to accomplish.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned on the job? Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and always keep an open line of communication with others. You are going to make mistakes, but make sure to learn from those and to trust your staff during the daily grind of a season.
How do you predict the sports field industry will evolve in the future? Historically, I’m not sure three or four years ago it would have been possible for us to make the transition from a warm-season to a cool-season turf. With the new cultivars and products, it has made our renovation a reality.
I also believe technology continues to evolve with soil sensors and smart irrigation systems. These have been two extra tools that we use daily with our turf and skin management.
What is the most important quality required to be a successful field manager? Patience! The weather dictates our schedule on a daily basis, yet we can’t control Mother Nature.
What advice would you give aspiring field managers? Find an “in” to the sports turf industry and get your hands dirty. Don’t expect to start at a high-level position, and remember to have a positive attitude. Try to learn something new every day. I would also recommend taking advantage of networking opportunities by joining the STMA and attending local, regional and national seminars or conferences.
What’s the most memorable moment of your career? The most memorable moment in my career was helping with the 2006 World Series. Bill Findley, head groundskeeper with the St. Louis Cardinals, has been gracious enough to invite my assistant and I to help with several events ever since. Also, I was fortunate enough to win the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) Field of the Year award in 2008 and this year’s Minor League Baseball Sports Turf Manager of the Year.
Who have been your biggest influences/mentors? That would be my dad. He taught me to lead by example with his work ethic, and how to operate equipment at a young age. I can remember to this day when he said, “Drive the tractor straight to that tree and don’t overlap.”