Welcome to October, perhaps the greatest time of the year for sports’ fans. You have it all this month – baseball, football, basketball, hockey and soccer. As the saying goes, it doesn’t get any better than this.
But what makes this part of the year extra special for sports fans is the Major League Baseball playoffs.
For the sports field managers of the teams in the playoffs, it’s a memorable time – even if it means extending a long season.
Doug Gallant, head groundskeeper for the Cincinnati Reds, didn’t ready the Great American Ball Park for the playoffs this year. The Reds, battered by injuries, had a tough year. Gallant wishes the Reds were still playing, as it’s not only a magical experience for the players, it’s also an incredible experience for field managers and their crews.
“Everything is about baseball and the game itself,” Gallant told me. “You don’t have to worry about any fireworks or pregame parades.”
Making the playoffs allows field managers to show off their parks to a national audience. Their adrenaline is pumping as much as the players when they look around the park on those cool autumn nights, their senses spiked by bright lights, packed stands and roaring fans. And the fields look so good that not even they can find even the smallest thing wrong with them.
“It’s like being a little kid and making a wiffle ball field in your backyard,” Gallant says. “It brings back that kind of feeling to me.”
He didn’t always feel that way. Gallant, who just finished his 15th season with the Reds, endured several losing years with the team, up until a few years ago, and admits it cast a spell on him. He was perfectly fine with the team not going to the playoffs, because if they did it would mean several more weeks of work. When you have to prepare a field for 81 games in six months, you get exhausted and look forward to the off-season. Understandable.
However, when the Reds made the playoffs the last few years, Gallant got a taste of the postseason and it changed him. He realized what he was missing.
“It was just a whole different atmosphere,” he states.
There’s a message for us all in Gallant’s realization: It’s about embracing the moment. For a field manager, that means taking the time to stop and smell the magnificent aroma of the outfield grass.
When the Reds made the playoffs, Gallant did just that. Now he can’t wait to get another whiff of the postseason.
Doug Gallant, head groundskeeper for the Cincinnati Reds, can’t wait for the Reds to make the postseason again.
PHOTO BY LAWRENCE AYLWARD.
“I can’t even imagine what hosting a World Series would be like,” he says.
This month, two Major League Baseball field managers will get that opportunity. Here’s to them for getting that chance and embracing it – for it will be the highlight of their careers.
Lawrence Aylward, editorial director of SportsField Management, can be reached at LAylward@MooseRiverMedia.com or 330-723-2136.