FridayAug 28, 2020 at 2:46 PM
Meet the essential workers at Huntington Park
The boys of summer have yet to take the field at Huntington Park, but when the time comes, it will be ready for them, thanks to the efforts of Wes Ganobcik.
While the coronavirus pandemic caused the postponement of the Major League Baseball season, shuttering front offices and forcing employee furloughs at ballparks across the country, one group remains “essential” to operations—the grounds crew. For the Columbus Clippers, that’s usually a five-person team, but since April it’s been Ganobcik, director of field operations, and his assistant, Connor Smith, reporting to the ballpark daily to manage the maintenance and upkeep of the field.Like what you’re reading? Subscribe to our weekly newsletters.
What may look like just a well-tended lawn to regular folks is actually a living, breathing organism that represents a significant investment by the team, says Ganobcik, who has cared for the ballpark’s field for 10 years. Initially, he planned to do only basic maintenance on the field during the shutdown, including mowing, watering and fertilizing. “Because we can’t ever just let it go—it doesn’t work that way,” he says.
But as the pandemic dragged on, he and Smith also began performing tasks normally done in the run-up to the season, including building the mound, prepping the home plate area and edging—before the minor league season was officially canceled in late June. Clippers president and general manager Ken Schnacke calls their work a labor of love and says they’re doing the best they can with a bad situation. “Hopefully that means that next year ... the field will be plusher and firmer and in better shape than it’s ever been in before.”