WDAY: The News Leader

Published July 07, 2010, 12:10 PM

A close look at the crew who keeps Newman Outdoor Field looking great

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - When you arrive at Newman Outdoor Field for a RedHawks game, you probably take for granted that the field will be in great shape. As I found out, it's a big job with a lot of small details.

The RedHawks ground crew takes the field before fans arrive at the game; a long time before.

Matt Wallace: “We often arrive at the park at 10-11 in the morning on the day of a game and don't leave until 11 or 12 at night. And that could be for 7 days straight.”

Wallace has been the head groundskeeper at Newman Outdoor Field for 6 years. He and his staff of five are entrusted to keep the field looking, and playing its best. And the first thing most folks notice is the grass.

“My favorite part of the job is mowing the grass because the design is all up to me and my guys. A lot of people ask me how you do the designs. Basically, it's bending the blade of grass a certain way. It reflects light differently depending on the light.”

Josh Buchholz: “The grass is only part of it. The dirt has to be playing right.”

“The mound takes a lot of work. We fix the wear, pack it with clay.”

Using non-baseball tools like a spray bottle, a mallet, and something called a tamp. But different parts of the dirt, or Agra lime, require different care. Around the bases, it should be hard and smooth.

“In front of the plate, we try to make it soft, pitcher friendly, really soft so the ball hits it and basically goes nowhere instead of bouncing high.”

And then there are the chalk lines.

“It took me about 2 years to feel comfortable, not to have to think about it. You'll hear about it from the press box if they're not straight.”

So after all the cutting, tamping, edging, and weeding are done, it's time for the game. And time for the grounds crew to admire their work.

“Just before the players take the field, you look and see how all your hard work paid off.”

“Having a nice field is all part of the baseball experience when fans come to a professional ballpark.”

The RedHawks win in someone else's ballpark today, 1-0 on a Jesse Hoorelbeke homer in the 11th inning.