Compton, Ca: On a typical beautiful weekend day in Southern California, 40+ local youth and sports turf managers spent the day taking part in a "hands on" field maintenance training event held at the Academy. We had Luke Yoder, Head Groundskeeper with the Padres , Kyle Waters from the Home Depot Center, Erik Frey from STS and myself on hand to offer advise on mound, infield, turf care, mowing and logo painting. Moving in groups to different stations, we were able to expose the attendees to a wide variety of field maintenance techniques. What was cool about this event is that 30 from the group were teenagers… and all were excited about the hands on program. The event was FREE to the local communities and sponsored by Gail Materials who provided a wonderful lunch for us.
Darrell Miller, Executive Director of the Urban Youth Academy and his staff assisted with logistics and registration. It was a very fun learning event because the Kids attending were truly excited about the profession of groundskeeper. After the seminar was over we had 10 high school students approach us to ask about how to make the profession a career. I am convinced this is a great way to plant the seeds for future sport turf managers in our industry. The MLB Academies will become the avenue in providing opportunities to those that may be less fortunate than others and those opportunnities will be in many areas of baseball operations with an emphasis on groundskeeping. God blessed us with great weather today and a great turnout for the event. We are currently working on the next sports turf training event which will be a 3 to 4 day seminar this winter that will offer credits from the local high school through a vo-tech type program. Its going to be exciting!
Over the past several days I have been in the country of Colombia evaluating stadiums and fields for ?Team Renteria? accompanied with Moises Rodriguez MLB?s Manager International Baseball Ops. Edinson Renteria and his brother (Edgar, Atlanta Braves shortstop) are owners of a development league with 4 clubs in
Cartagena, Barranquilla, Monteria and Sincelejo. Orlando Cabrera also owns one of the clubs. The Renterias are working closely with MLB to improve the league in hopes of bringing more players to train during the winter ball season. But for now they just want to grow the game in there home country for the youth in the hopes of developing future stars. Most MLB Clubs have scouts in Colombia and both Tampa Bay and the Houston Astros have training facilities in Cartagena.
The stadiums have a typical old style seating bowl similar to other Caribbean
and South American ballparks and they are well used by the communities. The people in each city greeted us with open minds and hearts. We discussed improvements to the stadiums and fields which will require various renovations before they are ready for professional players. The cities and governments are committed to making the improvements in order to develop the countries future baseball players. Colombia has a rich history of baseball and MLB games are followed closely as you can watch many games on the local TV channels. Obviously, Edgar Renteria and his brother are cherished by the country due to there successes in the baseball industry.
(Photo of chalker for lines)
Cartagena to Monteria through the back roads and every 10 or 15 miles there was a check point. Randomly people are pulled over and asked for paper work for travel by the local police. The city of Cartagena has a beautiful ?old town? where tourists are abundant and the cost of items such as food etc?is extremely inexpensive.,, (And by the way, the food was great.) The country has its problems in the rural areas similar to the Dominican Republicand Puerto Rico.
Our next visit we will include a field maintenance training program for the groundskeepers around the country. We will be taking down a few folks to help with the training days. Should be a lot of fun as the people are so eager to learn.
(mower to the left is used to mow the entire field…Noel is superman. 9 tanks of gas is used to mow the field)