We visit Minor League Baseball and meet Danny Losito, the head groundskeeper for the Columbia (SC) Fireflies, Single A affiliate for the New York Mets. This is his first year with the club. Danny was formerly the assistant head groundskeeper for the Triple A Reno Aces, worked seasonally for the San Diego Padres, and interned for the Washington Nationals, so he’s building up the frequent flier miles, or perhaps putting a ton of miles on his truck!
Danny has a Bachelor of Science degree in turfgrass science from North Carolina State.
SportsTurf: In your new job, what have been your priorities so far?
Losito: My focus early in the year was to continue the recovery process from a few fall events and football games as well as continuing to grow in and maintain the overseeded ryegrass. A lot of time went into some little renovations on the field such as redefining the edges and dimensions of the field, building the pitcher’s mound, reshaping the bullpens and creating cutouts around them to be used as cart paths. One of my biggest priorities so far has been to work with my assistant and intern to develop my system here and really start to plan for this year and the future.
SportsTurf: What has been the biggest challenge so far with your new job?
Losito: The biggest challenge has been learning to manage my time and utilize the staff to the best of our ability. It can be a challenge at times because it is easy to get carried away and want to do everything yourself or the way you know how. Learning to trust, empower and rely on other people to help you get the job done is something that is new for me coming from a position where I was that person being relied on. Luckily, I am fortunate to have an assistant who opened the ballpark here in Columbia and has done a great job buying into my style of work.
SportsTurf: How is planning to host the Sally League All-Star game affecting your plan for this summer, if at all?
Losito: The timing of the All-Star game works well with our schedule because the team is out of town for 6 days before the first All-Star event. This will allow us time to prepare the field and let it recover and manage as needed before the big week. I am trying not to let the All-Star game affect how I plan to manage the field this summer. Easier said than done though. I obviously want the field to play and look its best for that week, but I have high expectations for the quality of our surface and plan to begin and end the season in “All-Star” shape. The biggest change in our plan for this summer has been from our front office limiting the amount of major on-field events leading up to All-Star week.
SportsTurf: Have you ever worked warm-season before?
Losito: I have worked with overseeded bermudagrass with the San Diego Padres, and non-overseeded bermudagrass with the Town of Cary (NC) at the USA Baseball National Training Facility.
SportsTurf: How has social media impacted your work?
Losito: Social media has made its biggest impact in my work by providing me with an avenue to connect with other people and groundskeepers in the industry. It can open the door for communication between people you might not already know and it allows people to share and borrow ideas.
SportsTurf: What is the best advice you’ve ever received about doing your job?
Losito: The best advice that I have ever received has been to not chase the dollar when trying to advance in this industry, but to chase the opportunity that is going to make you a better groundskeeper and a better person. Work harder than everyone else around you and eventually somebody will notice.
SportsTurf: What are the most important issues facing the sports turf management industry?
Losito: The hot topics seem to be employee retention, salary improvements, and attracting new staff members. I believe those are all important, but equally as important as maintaining our professionalism and work ethic. Making sure we are holding each other accountable for trying harder every day to be better at our jobs and remain an asset to our individual organizations. Push yourself to go outside of your comfort zone every now and then and use the resources available to you to try new things, experiment, and innovate. It is our job to keep up with the times and do whatever is necessary to keep producing the highest quality playing surfaces every single day. Do what you have always done, and you’ll get what you have always gotten.
SportsTurf: What are your passions and interests outside of work?
Losito: Outside of work, I enjoy playing hockey as much as I can. It is a great outlet for me to forget about life for an hour and a half and just have fun. I like being outdoors and staying active, playing music, sightseeing, and finding good coffee shops.