Student Stories: Turfgrass grad focuses on baseball fields

Few can say that millions have looked upon their work with approval, but Andrew Bartley can; for the Penn State alumnus, it's just another day at the office.

Well, not "the office" exactly. Now assistant groundskeeper of the U.S.A. Baseball National Training Complex in North Carolina, he reports to work each day at the ball park. Before this, he worked at PNC Park, the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was assistant to the manager of field maintenance.

Most people who watch baseball games don't really appreciate what goes into preparing the field," said Bartley, a graduate of the renowned Turfgrass Science program in the Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.

Before leaving Penn State, the New Castle, Pa., native spent a semester working with the Beaver Stadium crew, helping get the home of the Nittany Lion football team ready for games that often were televised across the country.

 "Working with the Beaver Stadium crew taught me a lot, but it was considerably different working with the Pirates," he said. "A lot of the focus for baseball is on the 'skin' area around the infield, dealing with the dirt aspect of a field. Football is a shorter season, but there is more wear and tear on the field with 300-pound men pushing each other around. However, because baseball season is so long with so many games, professional baseball fields take a beating, too."

His experience preserving the Pirates' turf led Bartley to his current job as assistant groundskeeper at the national training complex in North Carolina.

"It's similar to the work I did with the Pirates, but instead of just having one field to maintain I now am responsible for four," he said. "The premise of baseball-field management is similar in both locations, but this training complex has given me the opportunity to explore a different work environment. So along with a large amount of landscaping and maintenance of general turf areas I now also work with a different type of turfgrass in a different climate."

Still, Bartley's favorite part of the job is just working outside.

"I wouldn't want to be stuck behind a desk -- that's just not for me," he said.

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Last Updated November 18, 2010