Grass Is Greener...Saints Head Groundskeeper Contract "Purchased" by Brewers Organization
ST. PAUL, MN - CHS Field has been one of the pre-eminent ballparks in the country. It also has one of the best maintained playing surfaces in the American Association, receiving rave reviews from players since the ballpark opened in 2015. Most of that is thanks to award winning Head Groundskeeper, Nick Baker. His talents had Major League organizations taking notice. Like many Saints players, who have had their contracts purchased by Major League organizations, Baker will follow in the footsteps of those he's made sure play on one of the best surfaces in minor league baseball. Baker is now headed to the Milwaukee Brewers organization and will work at their Spring Training facility in Phoenix, Arizona.
The 30-year-old Baker will be the new Fields Manager at Maryvale Ballpark, home of the Brewers Spring Training facility. His primary role will be overseeing the Major League side of the Spring Training facility and supervising the renovation of the three Major League Spring Training fields.
Baker began with the Saints in November, 2014, the off-season prior to the organization moving into CHS Field. In his time overseeing the field maintenance, Baker earned the Minnesota Park Sports Turf and Managers Association (MPSTMA) Field of the Year honors in January, 2017. The award recognizes a Minnesota athletic facility for outstanding maintenance, aesthetics and overall playing conditions, all of which was overseen by Baker. In addition, CHS Field received STMA Environmental Certification which awards those fields that are taken care of in a green manner.
"Nick is the best in the business and we knew it would only be a matter of time before his talent was recognized by a Major League franchise," said Saints EVP and General Manager Derek Sharrer. "Anyone who has visited CHS Field has seen with their own eyes what an amazing job he's done with our field, but just as important to us was the significant role he played in our entire operation. From taking the lead on numerous ballpark improvement projects to working with our promotions and marketing staff to ensure that the big ideas are even bigger, Nick has been the ultimate team player and a true professional. You always hate to lose a star, but we couldn't be prouder to see Nick move a step closer to his dream."
The ballpark hosts more than 150 days of activities during a given year, which includes 50 Saints home games, the State High School Tournament, Legion Games and additional events such as festivals and concerts. In 2016 Baker was widely lauded for his unique Saint Paul skyline mowed into the outfield grass when the Saints hosted the 2016 American Association All-Star Game.
Along with the playing surface Baker has maintained the exterior grounds and helped with capital improvements.
Prior to joining the Saints Baker spent six months as the Assistant Groundskeeper at the University of Minnesota. He worked on TCF Field, the football practice fields, and maintained the softball and baseball fields.
Baker is no stranger to the well-manicured grounds of sports venues. Baker spent 2012-14 on the grounds crew at Target Field under the guidance of Larry DeVito. During his three years at Target Field, Baker worked year-round, including during the winter, plowing and melting snow, mowing the grass, getting home plate and the pitcher's mound ready for game day, getting the field ready for concerts, and machinery maintenance. He finished his time with the Twins in June of 2014 and then went back to work the All-Star Game.
Prior to his time at Target Field Baker got his hands dirty by working on the grounds crews at both Citi Field, the home of the New York Mets, and Principal Park, home of the Triple-A Iowa Cubs.
Baker is a graduate of Iowa State University in Horticulture and Turf Management. Baker will be moving to Arizona with his wife Emily, daughter Adeline, 4, and Flynn, 2.
The Saints didn't have to go far to find Baker's replacement hiring Assistant Groundskeeper Marcus Campbell. The 2016 University of Minnesota-Crookston graduate in Turf Management has spent the last two years with the Saints overseeing the grounds crew interns, field maintenance and landscape around CHS Field.
Campbell came to the Saints from the Baltimore Orioles spring training site in Sarasota, Florida. From late summer of 2016 until the spring of 2017 he spent his time in Sarasota rebuilding pitching mounds, and primarily worked on the Major League spring training stadium.
"We are so fortunate to have had Marcus waiting in the wings," said Sharrer. "While his educational background and professional experience speak for themselves, and his talent is apparent, he truly earned this opportunity through hard work, dedication, and a willingness to think and work creatively. We're confident that, on Marcus's watch, fans will be as be pleased with the look, and players will be as impressed with the feel, of the CHS Field playing surface as they have been since it opened in 2015."
During his time at Crookston Campbell received experience in turf management working at three separate golf courses during the summer of 2012-14. He began at Stoneridge Golf Course in Stillwater in 2012, went to Chisago Lakes Golf Course in 2013 and then worked at Grand Forks Park District in 2014. He did everything from tee box work, mowing the fairway, building bunkers, to ice rink making in the winter. Following graduation Campbell worked for a lawn care company in St. Croix Falls for two months before getting the job with the Orioles.
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American Association Stories from March 13, 2018
- Grass Is Greener...Saints Head Groundskeeper Contract "Purchased" by Brewers Organization - St. Paul Saints
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