ROUND ROCK, Texas - For the third time in five years, Eric Blanton, the Manager of Grounds for the Reno Aces, has been named the Pacific Coast League's 2013 Sports Turf Manager of the Year, the league announced today.
The award was voted on by the 16 field managers in the PCL and is judged by the voters on criteria such as pregame setup, field marking, and maintenance of all areas of the playing surface for the game, as well as the professionalism of the grounds crew.
Since the Reno Aces inaugural season in 2009, Blanton has consistently groomed Aces Ballpark to be one of the best in all of Minor League Baseball. The 2013 award is Blanton's third with Reno, with his first being earned in 2009 and second in 2011. Blanton also earned Presidential Commendation from the PCL in 2010 and 2012 after he finished second in the balloting both years.
Aces Manager Brett Butler has worked with Blanton for the last five seasons and thinks he is among the best in the business.
"I look at Eric Blanton as a Major League Turf Manager at the Triple-A level. He's been here for five years, and every year I'm surprised he is back, because he's the best in the league." Butler said. "He has really been a character of integrity, as well. Each night when I coach third base, every player says how much they love playing here because it is such a great ballpark."
Blanton began his baseball career with the Triple-A Tacoma Rainiers of the PCL in 2001 after studying turfgrass management at Walla Walla Community College in Walla Walla, Washington. He then joined the grounds crew with the Los Angeles Dodgers where he helped prepare Dodger Stadium from 2002-2005.
He spent four seasons with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats before joining the Reno Aces in 2009. While in New Hampshire, Blanton twice was named Eastern League Turf Manager of the Year, and in 2007, Minor League Baseball honored him as the Double-A Turf Manager of the Year.
Blanton and his crew were named in the top-three in 11 ballots, including four first-place votes. Last year's winner, Garrett Reddehase of the Round Rock Express, finished second in the voting while Casey Griffin of the Albuquerque Isotopes finished among the top-three finalists for the first time in his career.