The coolest thing about being a member of the Houston Astros ground crew is the feeling you get when you step in front of a stand of 40,000 people! When we are working as a unit during the games it is very cohesive, making us almost invisible to that crowd. Fans look at the results of our efforts during the entire game, but because the duties of the grounds crew of so seamless they only notice the result, not the team doing the work.
Working on the Houston Astros ground crew team was a bucket list item for me. From the horticultural point of view, trying to grow grass in a semi-indoor environment intrigued me very much. It is extremely difficult to grow grass in something that doesn’t get sun until the afternoon. The ground crew brings in UV lights in the wintertime to help expedite the process. The variety of grass grown on the field is Paspalum. It is becoming a standard in the sports industry for turf because it recovers very easily from both the shade environment and from the traffic of playing baseball. It is a very unique variety.
I’ve been in the landscape business my whole life, specifically commercial landscaping. Getting to be a part of the grounds crew team is a proud accomplishment. I even have an American League championship ring.
This year is not near as fun because typically you’d pretty much have free range. We work before the game, we set up for batting practice, and then when it’s done we have to pick all that up. Then we get the field ready for the game. During the game, we drag the infield in the third inning and in the sixth inning. Then, if there’s no extra innings we clean up after the game.
There is a full-time crew of seven grounds crew members that do the day-to-day operation. Compaction is a huge issue because of the play on the field so the team tries to stay off the turf anytime that it isn’t game time. Compaction is a huge issue and then of course, field of play, which is when you see a baseball player standing in one spot. He’s out there clawing with his feet and digging holes. Aeration is a very important part of the maintenance of the field to counteract the effects of playing ball creates. When the team is on the road for away games, the grounds crew mow every other day to try to give the grass a little bit of a breather. In addition, there is a very regular schedule of fertilizations and micronutrients for the turf to keep it as healthy as possible. There is a daily activity to help promote growth of the grass. And even with all of that care taken, the entire turf is replaced every year!
How would you say that experience adds to your abilities as a landscape consultant for LMC?
Being a part of the Houston Astros ground crew takes a lot of dedication and fortitude. It’s one of those jobs where it sounds like a lot of fun, but it’s actually quite a bit of work. Which I think is the same thing in real life. You have to be committed to your job and do it right. And from that point of view, I probably take more credit than I’m due because I don’t do near as much to make it look good. I just help maintain it but I am proud of that field and I am proud of the work we do at LMC. As a company, it’s about your image and your culture. The Astros do have a good core culture just like LMC, which I enjoy being a part of. I am proud to be a part of making the world a more beautiful place to live, work and play in both aspects!