And he has been my boss since April.
Cool guy stuff
One of my neighbors, Paul Drew, has worked on the crew for 10 years. At 64 (only three guys are over 50) and a former pharmaceutical salesman, he now runs his own lawn care business, Ballpark Landscapes, an outgrowth of his Victory Field job.
Back in February, he asked if I wanted to help out on the crew. Workers were needed for day games because the younger crew guys wouldn’t be out of school when baseball started in April.
I knew it would be my only chance, at 58, to say I had ever worked in professional baseball, particularly for a team I had watched since being a kid. And, surely, my buddies would think it was a cool guy thing.
Drew has a homespun way of explaining the grounds crew directive.
“You always have to avoid the grass. If you have to, take wings and fly across it. Don’t cast a shadow longer than three seconds on the grass,” he said. “And on the skin, which is the dirt area, walk like denuded shorebirds — you know, the birds that barely leave an imprint.”
Landon Nail, a 31-year-old stay-at-home dad, also had a friend who recommended he join the crew.
“I love Victory Field. I think the ballpark is just gorgeous. ... Being just a small part of that is rewarding.”
This is his first year on the crew. The work has deepened his appreciation for baseball, and for current Indians players as well as those called up to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
“It’s been years since I’ve been as interested in baseball as I am now,” he said.
“Now I’ve bought myself the MLB package on cable so I can watch the Pirates. You turn on the TV and you see Jordy Mercer, Brandon Inge and Gerrit Cole playing in a major league ballpark and I’ve been around those guys. It’s pretty neat.”