Some MiLB groundskeeping winners announced

For the third consecutive season, the Charlotte Knights are pleased to announce that Matt Parrott, the team’s Head Groundskeeper since 2016, has been named as the 2019 International League Sports Turf Manager of the Year. The award was selected by International League field managers and coaches

For the twenty-eighth straight year, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues and Major League Baseball have joined forces to recognize a Sports Turf Manager of the Year in each of the minor leagues. The award was established to recognize outstanding effort and excellence in the care and maintenance of a baseball playing surface.

“It’s an honor to once again receive this award,” stated Parrott. “This is a true testament to the work my assistant Joe Miles and our entire grounds crew put in this season. I’d also like to take a moment to thank our Owner, Don Beaver, our Chief Operating Officer, Dan Rajkowski, our General Manager, Rob Egan, and all of the support we received throughout the year from the entire Charlotte Knights’ organization.”

In each of the past two seasons (2017 & 2018), Parrott has earned the International League’s top sports turf honor and has gone on to be selected for Triple-A Baseball’s top sports turf honor. Parrott received the 2017 and 2018 Triple-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year awards at Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings in Orlando, FL (2017) and Las Vegas, NV (2018). Earlier this season, the Knights honored Matt with his own bobblehead giveaway at the team’s game on July 27 at BB&T Ballpark. His “Parrott Head Bobblehead” was given away to the first 1,500 fans at the team’s “Margaritaville Night” as part of a tribute to Jimmy Buffett and his iconic fans, “Parrot Heads”.

A native of Boone, NC, Parrott recently completed his fourth season with the Knights in 2019. Before joining the team, he spent 13 seasons with the Bowie Baysox of the Eastern League (Double-A). During his time in Bowie, MD, he earned the Eastern League Diamond Pro Sports Field Manager of the Year Award three times (2011 and 2014-15). In 2011, he was also named as the STMA (Sports Turf Managers Association) Double-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year. He received his BSBA undergraduate degree from Appalachian State University and an AAS Turfgrass Management degree from North Carolina State University.

Overall, this is the sixth time a Knights’ groundskeeper has been honored with the IL Sports Turf Manager of the Year Award. Larry Rhodes won the honor in 1996, while Eddie Busque took home the award in 2004 and 2005.

SAL honors Burgess for fifth time

The South Atlantic League and president Eric Krupa announced its annual league award winners, and the Greenville Drive have been selected as the as the recipient of a pair of awards. Drive Vice President of Operations & Grounds Greg Burgess was named the Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the fifth time, while the organization received the Best Playing Field Award for the sixth time.

“We are extremely honored to be recognized by the South Atlantic League with these prestigious awards,” said Craig Brown, the Drive’s Owner and Team President. “The Drive organization is committed to excellence year in and year out, and receiving these awards is tangible proof of the measurable impact we are making on the Upstate community, as well as the dedication and commitment of our front office to making the Drive the premier organization in all of professional sports.”

Burgess is being recognized by the South Atlantic League for the fifth time, as he previously received Sports Turf Manager of the Year in 2016, 2013, 2010 and 2008. He also received the Groundskeeper of the Year Award from the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) in 2010. Each head groundskeeper is graded in several different categories including pregame field preparation, overall playability of the surface, professionalism of the crew and more.

The playing surface at Fluor Field is being rewarded as the best in the South Atlantic League for the sixth time, as it previously was recognized in 2016, 2013, 2010, 2008 and 2007. In addition, Fluor Field was selected as the 2012 STMA Professional Baseball Field of the Year.

The Greenville Drive and its home of Fluor Field have always sought to deliver a “major league” experience for its players. Prior to the 2019 season, the playing surface was completely rebuilt, reflecting the Drive’s commitment to create a top-notch experience for the players. The care and maintenance of the field has been a top priority of the Drive from inception, showcased by the countless hours of hard work put in by Burgess and assistant groundskeeper Zack Pagans to make it one of the best in all of Minor League Baseball.

“The most important relationship that the Greenville Drive has, is with our Major League affiliate, the Boston Red Sox,” said Eric Jarinko, the Drive’s General Manager. “It is vital to our players’ development that they have the best resources available to them when they are a member of the Drive. The playing surface at Fluor Field is such an important asset, and we are extremely proud of the attention to detail and professionalism that Greg, Zack, and the entire grounds crew team, display in making sure that we have the best playing surface not only in the South Atlantic League, but in all of Minor League Baseball.”

Vancouver’s Baron receives 2nd straight turf award

Minor League Baseball has announced that Vancouver Canadians Head Groundskeeper Ross Baron is recipient of the Sports Turf Manager of the Year Award for the Northwest League. This is the second consecutive time the award has been given to the Vancouver Canadians, and both under Ross’ leadership.

Baron, 32, graduated from the University of Guelph with an associate diploma in Turf Grass Management. During his time at Guelph, Baron was added to the Washington Nationals Internship Program where he would work out at Nationals Park (2012).

“We faced a handful of key challenges this summer and I am fortunate to work with an organization that remains committed to ensuring our players can play on a professional playing surface,” states Baron.

“We also had a significant hand up on the competition working alongside A&B Tool Rentals who provided us with the machinery we needed to ensure our surface was just as strong at the end of the season as it was at the beginning.”

Baron, a native of Gibsons, B.C. has transformed Scotiabank Field into one of Minor League Baseball’s most talked about natural playing surfaces and started this project just two years ago when he stripped the entire infield and irrigation system and built it back from scratch. From adding a higher performing sod and proper fertilization schedule to widening the warning track and laser leveling the playing surface, Baron and his staff took historic Scotiabank Field to a level never achieved before in 2017 and carried it through this summer.

“The hours and work put in by our crew Steven Maisey and Chuck Kaisla all summer long are why we are receiving this honor today,” added Baron. “There was never a moment from day one where these guys weren’t ready to accept whatever challenge was put before them and I am proud to share this award with them.”

The Sports Turf Managers of the Year are selected by a 15-member awards committee, compiled by the Sports Turf Managers Association. Each League is awarded a nominee, and is individually scored on cultural practices, game day routine, resource utilization, staff management and the grounds keeper’s involvement and support of the sports turf industry.