For six weeks in 2016, Derek was my boss as part of the Field Crew for the Springfield Cardinals. Derek’s worked with the crew for 14 years as the Assistant Groundskeeper. During that span, the field has received a long list of awards: Texas League Field of the Year in 2007, 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, and the Double-A Field of the Year in 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
A couple days ago, when I played catch with Brad, the field looked ready to play on. Today, each blade of grass was encased in ice.
“Grass actually looks pretty long. We’ll have to mow it when the temperatures get back up later this week,” Derek said.
It’s February. At home, I am hoping to not mow my grass for several more weeks.
During home stretches, the grass is mowed daily. While the teams are away, it’s mowed every other day.
“But we spend the most time on the dirt. The mound and home plate area are in constant use throughout the game and no infielder wants a bad hop.”
I remembered getting an education about clay and water and material and sweeping and raking. Dirt maintenance is not an easy task whatsoever. Missouri weather doesn’t help matters. Thankfully, the technology that has developed over the past decade has been incredibly helpful in both maintaining the field and making in-game weather decisions.
With the all-Springfield outdoor skating rink still in effect, we used the inside training facility and played catch while various members of the MSU Bears took batting practice. I was pretty distracted watching the players take swings and wondered if I could make solid contact off the pitching machine. It felt incredible having a soft turf underneath our feet and no wind in our faces.
Pitchers and catchers report tomorrow.
Thanks be to God for Spring Training!