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The Beauty of Bowman

In a recent article, distinguished sportscaster Bob Costas detailed the awe he experienced when as a youngster, his father took him to his first Major League Baseball game at Yankee Stadium. The stadium’s meticulously manicured green grass was a sight he has never forgotten and instantly drew him to the game.

While Bowman Field is not Yankee Stadium, the country’s second-oldest ballpark and longtime west end treasure today provides the same lure for any youngster attending their first baseball game. Despite its age and league affiliation status, the green grass of Bowman is as good or better than any stadium can provide.

On a hot June afternoon, the man responsible for keeping Bowman Field pristine, Cameron Richardson, native of Dillsburg, PA, and graduate of Shippensburg University, paused from his hard-working schedule to share the pride in the work he does.

“Coming out of college, I always knew I wanted to work in sports. I got a sales internship with an independent baseball team in York. I quit on the second day because I realized I didn’t want to sit behind a desk.

“From there, I got into landscaping doing sports fields for the Northern York School District. I really enjoyed that, and over the next few years, I worked in several states in various landscaping positions. I’ve been in Williamsport the past five years taking care of Bowman Field.”

Richardson is employed by BrightView Landscapes, the official fields consultant for Major League Baseball. As such, BrightView is involved with any event MLB has outside a Major League stadium, whether it is domestic or international, in readying the playing surface. Such events as the Field of Dreams game, the World Baseball Classic, and our own MLB/Little League Classic are included in those assignments.

“BrightView began work at Bowman Field in 2016/2017 when the playing surface was rebuilt for the Little League Classic. That initial work was led by Isaiah Lienau, and I came on in 2019. We worked together for a while until he moved on to Dyersville, Iowa, to build the Field of Dreams field.”

Richardson describes his responsibilities as “endless.”

“Anything on the field we take care of. I have three others helping me from May through Labor Day, and then I am here by myself from September through April. I am here year-round. The field usually closes up around Thanksgiving. After about six weeks, I get a little restless and sometimes will take on assignments at another of our fields in warmer climates. Then it is back to Williamsport to start the process anew.”

It is anything but a nine-to-five job for Richardson and his crew.

“On a game day, work begins at 8:00 a.m. We begin by mowing the outfield in two directions [which produces a pattern look], which takes about three hours. We mow the infield and the bullpens by hand. The biggest thing we face is to make sure there is enough moisture in the dirt surfaces of the basepaths, mound, and plate. The watering process is done four or five times a day, depending on the weather conditions. Then we make sure the warning track is smoothed out and watered.

“Around 2:00 p.m., we start setting things up for batting practice. This includes setting up screens and placing turf protectors for the grass. After batting practice concludes [around 5:30], we have the field for thirty minutes to smooth the infield, water, and line the field and make everything game ready. Throughout the game, we have various tasks that include dragging the field after the third and sixth innings.

“After the game, we have an hour to an hour-and-a-half of work patching the mound and plate and getting things ready for the next day. Game days are long ones, and it is usually about 11:00 p.m. until we get to go home.”

Asked about how Bowman Field may compare to other MLB Draft League facilities, Richardson gave the local venue high marks.

“The only other Draft League stadium I’ve seen is State College. The groundskeeper for the Spikes admits our field is much better. Their field is eighteen years old, so it has some longevity to it. Our field was rebuilt in 2017, so it is still relatively young, and luckily for us, we have all the equipment we need to maintain it. All the visiting teams that come in here give us very positive feedback on the condition of the field.

“A lot of people may think all groundskeepers do is run sprinklers and mow grass. There is so much more that goes into it. We continually look at leaf tissue, checking for disease, fertilize all the time to make sure it is growing and thriving, hand watering hot spots, and working the clay areas of the pitcher’s mound and batter’s box. The biggest misconception the public may have is a lack of understanding of the amount of work that goes into it.

“The best part about what I do is the instant gratification of doing your job and then two hours later look back and see the results of what you did and see how beautiful you can make something. The long hours are a downside, but the end results make it all worthwhile.”

Should there be any 97-year-old ladies out there desiring to play the dating game, give Cameron Richardson a call? Judging from what he is doing for Bowman Field, he can make you look very good!