Oklahoma State University Turfgrass Science

Monte McCoy - Oklahoma City Dodgers Field Management




From newsok.com

By the time the first pitch was thrown on the morning of May 6 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, it was anybody’s guess whether the Oklahoma City Dodgers and the New Orleans Zephyrs would get a full game in before the rain started.

During the top of the first inning, a storm system that would later dump several inches of rain on the metro area was just making its way across western Oklahoma. Monte McCoy, the Dodgers’ head groundskeeper, sat in an equipment room just behind the right field wall, keeping one eye on the game and the other on a weather app on his phone.

If the rain comes hard and fast enough and the crew can’t get the tarp down in time, water can pool on the field. That can lead to delays, he said.

“It’s not good,” he said.

As it turned out, the rain held off long enough. In the top of the ninth inning, as the Zephyrs took a 4-3 lead on an RBI double by shortstop Miguel Rojas, dark clouds were beginning to roll through the metro. But it wasn’t until a few hours later that a storm system sparked about a dozen tornadoes and dumped several inches of rain across the area, leading to flash floods.

On days like that, McCoy keeps an eye on the weather and tries to keep umpires updated if the situation changes. Even when the team is on the road, McCoy finds himself checking weather reports in the city where they’re playing, he said. It’s a tough habit to break, he said.

On a normal day with no rain, McCoy might be at the ballpark for 15 or 16 hours in a stretch, he said, so rain delays can turn what’s already a long day into a marathon. But if the rain stretches on long enough, umpires generally just call the game off.

“They don’t want to be here all night, either,” he said.

Even before last week’s floods, McCoy had more than enough weather to keep him busy. Heavy rain had forced the team to reschedule a game the day before. Groundskeepers already had prepared the field for the game, but when the game was called about 6 p.m., all the grounds crew could do was pull the tarp across the field and wait.

“After that, we just watched it rain,” he said. “There’s really nothing we can do.”

18 years of experience

McCoy has been a groundskeeper in Oklahoma City since 1997, when the team was called the Oklahoma City 89ers. He came from a job as groundskeeper with the University of Oklahoma’s baseball team. Since then, he’s learned to recognize a bad day when he sees one. Any time the tarp is on the field, it’s usually a good sign it’s going to be a tough day at work, he said.

This year has brought more of those days than usual. Central Oklahoma is in the middle of its fifth-wettest spring on record, according to the Oklahoma Mesonet weather network. The team already has been forced to reschedule three home games this season because of rain.

There may be more delays or cancellations in store this week. Forecasters predict good chances for thunderstorms Saturday evening, just as the Dodgers begin a four-game homestand against the Iowa Cubs.

Despite the long hours and unpredictable weather, McCoy said he still finds the job rewarding, even after 18 years.

“You come to the ball field every day,” he said. “At the end of the day, you come to the baseball field every day for work.”




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