By Mike Ahern
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (July 24, 2015)-- The Indianapolis Indians grounds crew at Victory Field puts in a lot of work before every game. If they had it their way, you'd never know it.
Ten hours before the first pitch is thrown, Joey Stevenson's men are at work, making sure that Victory Field is a field of dreams, and not nightmares. For the Indianapolis Indians players, that means no bad hops in the infield and a firm pitcher's mound.
In other words, Victory Field must feel as good as it looks. Stevenson says that means a lot of preparation.
His crew mows the Kentucky blue grass to exactly a one inch height, smooth the pitcher's mound, drag the infield dirt with a metal screen and nail - dragging it to level any cleat marks from the night before. Later, the entire crew will water the infield.
The long hours have paid off for Stevenson. The Purdue University graduate has been voted the International League's sports turf manager of the year three times. Pitching coaches and team managers participate in the voting process - not an easy crowd to please.
Stevenson says a perfect game for his crew means they are never seen and there's no rain.
He says he treats Victory Field like a big golf green. Others say he takes care of it as if it were his own yard. He doesn't guarantee that your lawn can look as good, but he's willing to share a few secrets through social media.
Much like the players, Stevenson's dream is to one day be a groundskeeper at the major league level.
Looking around on a summer morning at victory field, it looks like he's already there.