CO-Horts Blog

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Put me in coach! I'm ready to play!

Posted by: Alison O'Connor, horticulture agent, Larimer County

Me. As a Smurf. See those skinned knees?
This is my favorite time of year. Yes, it's almost gardening season...but even better is the non-stop sports action that currently inundates our lives. I'm talking March Madness, the Masters and the beginning of the baseball season.

I'm a Minnesota native and I love our (now) terrible sports teams. I still remember when I was 7 years old and the Twins won the World Series for the first time in 1987 (they won again in 1991). Mom let my brother and me stay up late to watch Kirby Puckett, Dan Gladdon and Kent Hrbek bring home the Commissioner's Trophy. Everyone was so excited at school the next day that the teachers had a hard time keeping us on track.

In 2010 the Twins built their new outdoor stadium, Target Field. I was there for the sodding of the field and it was exhilarating. In case you didn't know, Graff's Turf Farms in Fort Morgan, Colorado grew the turf for the field. Just this week, my dad texted me to tell me that Larry DiVito, the sports turf manager for Target Field, had taken off the turf cover. The Twins will open on April 13 against the Royals, who, as you may remember, played last in the World Series. Let's hope that new manager Paul Molitor will bring home a win. Maybe his new cell policy will help.
Target Field for the 2014 All-Star Game (photo from
Other stadiums have made the news this week, like Fenway Park in Boston. The sports turf manager there, David Mellor, was dealing with feet of snow on the field and he enlisted the help of black sand to hasten the snow melt. Unlike Target Field, Fenway doesn't have field heating (though it should be mentioned that field heat isn't used to melt snow, rather to keep the soil from freezing). So while Target Field has the "Cadillac system", Fenway staff had to resort to innovative technology to melt their record 4.5 feet of snowfall to be ready for the Red Sox opening day on April 13.
It's not "dirty snow" but black sand spread over the top to aid in snow melt.
(Photo courtesy of David Mellor)
The outfield fence and Boston's record-breaking snowfall in 2015.
(Photo courtesy of David Mellor)
Also in the news was the U.S. Cellular Field (home of the Chicago White Sox). Their field was frozen solid. This is also a stadium without field heat. So the Chicago field manager, Roger Bossard (AKA The Sodfather), has kept the field tarped while blowing hot air underneath to gently warm the soil. According to Bossard, he says, "Last year I had 30" inches of permafrost. I do have about 15" now. I'm throwing heaters underneath my tarp and then I'm putting heaters in my drainage system, which is something I've never done before." The White Sox will host the Twins on April 10 for their home opener. 
The Sodfather himself, Roger Bossard, standing on his frozen field in 2013.
(Photo from 
Here in Colorado, the Rockies are fortunate to have a newer stadium with field heat and Mark Razum has likely taken a leisurely vacation to spring training in Arizona, simply because Colorado has had a very mild winter.
Mark Razum is grateful he didn't have to deal with permafrost or 4.5' of snow in 2015.
(Photo from
So no matter what baseball team makes you cheer (or hang your head in shame), give the sports turf managers credit for getting the fields green and glorious in early April. And now for a song all Minnesotans should know: "We're gonna win Twins, we're gonna score! We're gonna win Twins, watch that baseball soar! Crack out a homerun, shout a hip-hooray! Cheer for the Minnesota Twins to-day!" (Yes, it's darn catchy. Yes, it will stay in your head.)


  1. Excelent article! I live in Palatine a Chicgo suburb. And I'm you guessed, a Cubbies fan. I think the sod in Wrigley came from Colorado too? You guys grow good grass there I guess. Ha ha! I volunteer taking care of my granddaughters softball field so know how much work it is. It doesn't look as nice as your Rockies field but we are pretty proud of it. The guys who take care of these fields work hard. I know. Thanks for the artcle. I am going to show it to my friends who help with our field. And this could be the year for the Cubs. But we think that every year.

  2. Hi Sam...glad you enjoyed Alison's blog! And great to hear that you are a sports turf manager as well. Yes, the job of a sports turf manager is neither an easy or stress-free one - and is a lot more than just mowing the grass.

    Your recollection is correct: the sod in Wrigley came from Graffs Sod Farm in Fort Morgan CO. Let's hope it brings the Cubbies some good luck this year. And, by the way, I grew up in the Chicago area and cheered for the Cubs as well.

    Thanks for reading our blog, and for sharing it with your friends!

  3. Luther who misses BostonMarch 20, 2015 at 11:31 AM

    I heard about the black sand from my brother in Boston. We are wondering how they get all of that black sand off of the field after the snow has melted? And this will be the year for the Sox, with all due respect to the Cubs (notta chance).

  4. Hi Luther! I should have mentioned that the Red Sox do have a field cover on top of the turf surface. They blew a lot of the excess sand off and anything remaining will work into the turf like topdressing. Great question. I hope my Twins have at least a winning season :)

  5. In times of cold, where it's beds of ice and freezing, you'll just have to employ say a heater in ways that it's just not for the purpose of ambience. That is a testament to how useful having one can be, so might as well keep it around. In any way, thanks for sharing that! All the best!

    Shelley Coday @ C & C Heating & Air Conditioning

  6. Growing up I was a huge fan of baseball and played several years of softball until I was finished with college. When my own daughter became interested in the sport I volunteered to help around the field and help coach the other girls whenever I was free. I will keep this post in mind when the season starts up again so I, and the other volunteers, can help keep the field healthy.

    Rosa Nelson @ HVAC Services Philadelphia