By Bill McCaughey
For the Fort Bend Star
As a kid, one of the thrills of going to a professional baseball game was to walk onto the concourse and see for the first time, the greenest and lushest grass you had ever seen. Today, Constellation Field ranks at the top for groundskeeping, and they have an award to prove it.
Head groundskeeper Brad Detmore and his crew, Bobby Croteau and Austin Baudler, were awarded the Atlantic League’s 2016 Ray Cipperly Award for Groundskeeping Excellence after last season. The award was partly due to the work Detmore and his crew did during the floods of 2016. They kept Constellation Field looking great and no games were cancelled due to the condition of the field.
“Brad takes a ton of pride in keeping the field in great shape. We throw a lot at him with baseball games, concerts, and graduations. He is very conscientious and an outstanding groundskeeper,” Skeeters President Jay Miller said. “We are very lucky to have him.”
Detmore and his crew work long hours.
“When the team is in town, we are here from 8 a.m. to midnight. After games, we fix the mound, the bullpens and the base paths. We touch up any problem spots. Then in the morning, we finish the work from last night. That takes about one to two hours,” Detmore said. “After that, we mow the grass. We mow every day. Right now, we mow to 5/8ths of an inch, and we are never over ¾ of an inch. We must be finished by 3 p.m. for the teams to take batting practice.”
The Constellation Field grass is a Bermuda hybrid.
“The grass is on a sand base for drainage, so we really can’t fertilize it much. The fertilizer just leaches through the sand. We do a lot of topical applications to keep it growing and green,” Detmore said. “We probably spend more time on the dirt. It has a lot of clay in it, and we really focus on keeping the moisture right.
We have to be careful with the dirt because of the rain we have here. We really watch the weather. Any time there is a chance of rain, we put the tarp over the field.”
Detmore denied any rumors about wetting down the base paths to slow down base stealers, or other tricks to give the Skeeters an advantage.
“(Manager) Gary (Gaetti) is great to work with. He doesn’t ask for anything special,” Detmore said. “He just wants a great field to play baseball on.”
Detmore was born and raised in Missouri City and graduated from Elkins High School in 1999. He went on to play baseball at Concordia University in Austin.
“After my freshman year in college, I needed a summer job. Around that time the Round Rock Express began playing and my assistant coach was working for them in the summer. I asked if he could get me a job there on the grounds crew,” Detmore said. “My first summer, I was the outside (the park) landscape guy. The next year they me moved inside and I worked on the field for the next few years. I loved it and that is where I learned everything about groundskeeping on a baseball field.”
After graduating from Concordia in December of 2003, Detmore was the assistant groundskeeper at Round Rock for a year. In 2005, he moved to Corpus Christi to open up Whataburger Field. In 2006, his old boss at Round Rock moved up to the Texas Rangers, and Detmore was named head groundskeeper at Round Rock.
“In 2009, my father, who was living in Missouri City, was sick and there happened to be a job with the Houston Texans. I got the job and was able to move back to Missouri City to be closer to my dad. I took a chance leaving baseball. I just love everything about baseball, but this gave me time with my dad,” Detmore said. “After a year or two, the Skeeters popped up. I thought, no way. This would be too good to be true. I would get to do what I love doing and live where I grew up.”
Detmore is a true craftsman who will do whatever it takes to keep Constellation Field looking great. “If you don’t love it, you are crazy. The hours are long and it is always hot and humid here, but it is a passion,” Detmore said. “This is pure love for me.”
Former New York Yankees Sparky Lyle and Willie Randolph have been named honorary managers for the Atlantic League All-Star game to be played on July 12 in Somerset. Lyle played 16 seasons in the Major Leagues and won back-to-back World Series championships in 1977 and 1978. After retiring, Lyle managed the Somerset Patriots for 15 years before retiring in 2012.
Randolph played 18 years in the Majors and joined Lyle on the 1977 and 1978 championship teams. After retiring, Randolph was a coach with the Yankees for 11 seasons and was manager of the Mets from 2005 to 2008.
Skeeters’ manager Gary Gaetti was selected to manage the Freedom Division all-star team in the Atlantic League All-Star game. This will be the second time Gaetti has managed in the Atlantic League all-star game, the first being in 2014 when the game was held in Sugar Land. Gaetti has a record of 381-318 in five years with the Skeeters. He will square off against Brett Jodie of the Somerset Patriots, who is managing the Liberty Division for the second straight year.
The Skeeters went 1-6 last week as they fell 10.5 games behind the division leading Blue Crabs. On Tuesday (June 20), the Skeeters began their road trip with a 7-4 win over New Britain. The Bees came back to win 5-2 on Wednesday, and 6-4 on Thursday. Coming home to play in Constellation Field didn’t help as the Long Island Ducks took the first three games of a seven-game series. The Ducks won 5-1 on Friday, 6-3 on Saturday and 4-1 on Sunday.
Anthony Giansanti continues to lead the Skeeters with a .305 batting average, and Travis Scott has 35 runs-batted-in. Brett Marshall leads the Skeeters’ starting pitchers with a 5-3 record and a 4.83 earned-run average. Jake Hale is 4-2 with a 3.16 earned run average. Felipe Paulino has six saves with a 2.25 earned run average.
S. Maryland Blue Crabs 36-26-0
Lancaster Barnstormers 33-29-3
Sugar Land Skeeters 26-37-10.5
York Revolution 24-39-12.5
Somerset Patriots 39-24-0
Bridgeport Bluefish 35-28-4
Long Island Ducks 33-30-6
New Britain Bees 25-38-14
The Skeeters will finish out their series with the Ducks with games tonight (Wednesday) and Thursday. Tonight, kids get in free, and Thursday is Thirsty Thursday and Teacher Appreciation Night.
The Skeeters then embark on a 10-game road trip beginning with a three-game series at York, followed by a four-game series with Southern Maryland, and finishing with a three-game series at Somerset.
After the Somerset series, the league will take a four-day break for the Atlantic League All-Star Game held in Somerset.
Skeeter of the Week
Travis Scott is the Skeeter of the week. During the last week, Scott’s batting average was .280 with three doubles and seven RBIs.