Being head groundskeeper for a Major League Baseball stadium involves much more than just mowing the grass.
You know that feeling you get the moment you step foot in a major league baseball stadium, when the whole field comes into view?
No matter how many games you've been to, that immaculate green of the outfield grass, the reddish-tan of the infield dirt, and the white of the bases and foul lines instantly transform the stadium into a wonderland.
Well, if you're visiting the Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park, you can thank Heather Nabozny for that.
Ms. Nabozny is one of 30 head groundskeepers in Major League Baseball. They're all responsible for mowing, sweeping, watering, raking, fertilizing, and painting the fields on which each team plays.
Nearly everything at Comerica Park – from the fans' seating section to the playing surface – is in the hands of Ms. Nabozny and her full-time crew of six, which more than triples on game days. According to the Sports Turf Managers Association, she is the first female head groundskeeper in the modern history of Major League Baseball.
On most days during the baseball season, she arrives at the ballpark at 7 a.m., long before the coaches and players, to start the crew watering and mowing the field, which consists of a blend of three types of Kentucky bluegrass. She and the others mow the outfield grass, cutting it in two different directions to give it its characteristic checkerboard pattern. (This is called double cutting.)
Sometimes she even meets with players, such as Tigers' second baseman Placido Polanco, "to make sure the infield is OK," she says. "He mentioned that he really enjoys playing here."