Ground Control

August 2001

What matters is the bounce.

What matters is the way a ground ball takes that first hop. And what matters is that Rockies’ shortstop Neifi Perez sees that very same bounce every time the ball comes to him. From the stands, the fans are first impressed by Coors Field’s perfect carpet of Kentucky bluegrass. But the grounds crew will tell you that what matters more is the condition of the smooth, sandy dirt of the infield. They’ll tell you about their boss’s exclusive handmade tool that creates the optimal texture and firmness, they’ll tell you about rotating the bases, and they’ll tell you how long it takes to water that dirt (about 45 minutes).

But if you want to talk about Coors Field with this crew, don’t call it the infield – call it the skin. “The skin, that’s how I judge a field,” says Mark Razum, head groundskeeper for the Colorado Rockies. “If it’s too dry, you’ll see it in the dust clouds with a slide. Too wet and the skin gets firm and the ball falls really hard. It’s important; good baseball gets played in the dirt.”

The players count on the consistency of the skin, and when the day is done Razum – better known as Raz – and his team take a look at the scoreboard to gauge their work.

“I like to see a zero in the error column,” says Tim Holt, in his second year with the crew. “That shows we’re doing our job.”