‘We Want That Wow Factor’: The Man Behind the Turf at Hammons Field

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Have you ever been to a Springfield Cardinals game? And have you ever paid attention to the field and the pattern of the turf? 

Well, the person responsible for making that happen at Hammons Field is one of the best in the country. Brock Phipps has been named the 2018 Sports Turf Manager of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association(STMA) and Minor League Baseball (MiLB) in the Double-A category. And he is receiving this award for the sixth time. 

When you come to a Springfield Cardinals game, you may know the coaches, you definitely know the players, but you might know someone who is essential for making this whole experience happen for you, so today you’re meeting Phipps, the man who keeps the field looking good for the fans, and safe for the players.

“We take a lot of pride in what we do here,” said Phipps, head groundskeeper for the Springfield Cardinals.

From the office to the field, to the game… 

“When the crowd comes into the field, we want that wow factor,” Phipps said.

Phipps says it all starts with the simple things.

“It starts with the grass,” Phipps said.

A lot of hours and detailed work.

“We don’t want the grass laying the same direction all the time,” Phipps said. “During the summer the infield dirt takes a lot of my time, we probably water that four or five times a day,” 

Phipps worked with the Ozark Mountain Ducks for five years before starting with Cardinals.

“I was hired on here by Mr. Hammons, back in 2003,” Phipps said.

That year, he helped put in this field 

“That was quite the summer,” Phipps said. “I remember it like it was yesterday, long hot hours, but it was very gratifying at the same time, knowing that I was a part of that project,” 

So 15 years later, naturally he knows everything about it

“The field was built to handle up to 6 to 8 inches of rain and allow them to play for an hour or two,” Phipps said.

Phipps is being recognized for his work here, but he says he doesn’t do it alone. 

“I have a full-time assistant, has been great help, his name is Derrick Edwards,” Phipps said.

And about 10 people on staff in the summer.

“Quite the grind,” Phipps said. “We miss a lot of time with family in the summer. … We work from 8:30 to 10:30 or 11 o’clock at night.” 

But the result, he says, makes it all worth it.

“The most gratifying thing is actually seeing the guys that played here move on up to Saint Louis,” Phipps said. “They always talk about how nice the field was here.”

Phipps will be recognized at the Major League Baseball Winter Meetings Banquet on Dec. 10 in Las Vegas.

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