Monday, April 13, 2009

Leaves of Grass

Dodger Stadium in January.

Apologies to Walt Whitman aside, those of you who get the LA Times print edition this morning will get to read pages (starting in Column One) about Dodger Stadium's incredibly well-maintained and designed turf, and the science behind its rejuvenation each off-season:

Eric Hansen is the head groundskeeper, a former Air Force man from Texas who will discuss almost anything you want, one of the calmest people in the Dodgers' organization.

Turns out Hansen is the one who's painted over the Picasso. Under his guidance, crews have peeled up all that beautiful turf. It looks to be the sort of thing you'd do in revenge, out of spite and anger.

But it's something the Dodgers do routinely every four or five years, beginning with a two-week makeover in late January, followed by careful nurturing over the next two months, just before fans show up for the April opener. They pull up the old carpet and put in the new. Fans never witness the upheaval; we just swoon over the finished product.

As with all big spring yard projects, there are a hundred issues for Hansen, not the least of which is the unpredictable weather and inopportune rains.

"I don't get too worried," says Hansen, who has been with the Dodgers for 10 years and worked at the Toronto Blue Jays' spring training complex before that. "I've done it so many times."

Articles like these make me realize how much appreciation Hansen and his staff merits. Those of you who have been on the field, as I have many times, know that it's the finest turf around--it's heavenly. Thanks to Chris Erskine for showing us all the work that goes on behind the scenes.

photo by Mark Langill /Dodgers


Fred's Brim said...

I snuck onto the field one time several years ago. I was in LA and with my dumb luck, the Dodgers were on a road trip. I had never been to the stadium before so we drove there just to check it out. We drove around the empty parking lot and saw that the centerfield fence was wide open. We parked and strolled in - there nobody around - the crew was working on the infield and oblivious to the new centerfielders. I wanted to lay down and take a nap on that grass. I also grabbed a handful of warning track crushed brick that I still have in a plastic baseball holder

Orel said...

Nice, FB! If you're in town for Father's Day, the Dodgers open the outfield to the public. (It must be Eric Hansen's nightmare.)

Fred's Brim said...

I bet! i heard a story (and I am sure it's not unique) about some guys, as a last request of their best friend, depositing the ashy remains of said best friend on the outfield grass during a fireworks night when they let people on the field (4th of July probably)