As the 60th anniversary of JUCO World Series approaches, Julia Maguire takes a look at how the grounds crew maintains Suplizio Field during the 19 game week.
Each year, 10 teams from around the country punch a ticket to Grand Junction en route to the Junior College World Series, but what can be lost in all the excitement of the tournament is another team that's been prepping for quite some time; the grounds crew at Suplizio Field.
"It's not just watching a baseball game," said Park Supervisor Mark Mancuso. "We're looking for different things."
Mancuso has been in that position for almost three years and knows during the World Series the grounds crew can use an extra set of hands to say the least.
"In the grounds crew we have six, two full time and four seasonal, that take care of [Suplizio] throughout the season," he explained. "During JUCO we'll enlist the help of anywhere up to 20 employees cleaning stands, restrooms, prepping wherever, so, yeah, the staff does grows and so do the hours."
A tournament with 19 games in one week can often require field prep as early as 4 a.m. to meet a 9 a.m. start time.
"Everybody wants to make sure the best product is out there and the safest for the players," said Mancuso.
Up to four games in one day can be a lot of wear and tear on the field which requires fixing in between games. Mancuso said the crew will put clay on the mound and rebuild it to make sure it's the same for every game. The same goes for home plate and the batters' boxes.
"You always see batters digging in, trying to get that good grip, so you'll see significant size holes in there," said Mancuo. "We make sure that we have clay, so we compact it as best as we can."
The idea is to maintain a product consistent throughout the tournament.
"The guys take pride in what they do," said Mancuso. "We make sure that game one plays the same as game 19 or wherever we're at."
Mancuso and his crew are also responsible for the field during the CMU, Grand Junction Rockies, and District 51 baseball seasons. This year's JUCO World Series starts Saturday, May 27 and runs until the following Saturday, June 3.