Minor League Baseball and the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) announced that State College Spikes Senior Sports Turf Manager Matt Neri has been named Sports Turf Manager of the Year for the entire Short-Season/Rookie classification.
Neri, the four-time New York-Penn League Sports Turf Manager of the Year, is a first-time winner of the classification-wide honor. The Williamsburg, PA native will now join the Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A honorees for the Awards Luncheon on Monday December 5 at the Baseball Winter Meetings in National Harbor, MD.
In addition to maintaining a Major League-quality playing surface for the Spikes season, Neri also oversees the sports turf operations for all Penn State University baseball games and other field activities held at the ballpark.
Neri has been involved in professional baseball sports turf management since 2002, when he began his career with the Altoona Curve of the Eastern League assisting in overseeing the sports turf operations at the then-named Blair County Ballpark. While with the Curve, Matt was part of two Eastern League Field of the Year awards. Neri, the only groundskeeper in Medlar Field at Lubrano Park history, currently resides in Williamsburg with his wife Christy and two children.
"We are so proud that Matt Neri has been recognized for the outstanding work he puts in every single day with this prestigious honor," said Spikes General Manager Scott Walker. "Medlar Field at Lubrano Park has consistently been recognized as one of the nation's best ballparks, and Matt's efforts are a big reason why that is the case."
"It is a honor to receive the Short-Season/Rookie Sports Turf Manager of the Year award," said Neri. "Thank you to the Sports Turf Managers Association and to Minor League Baseball, and to the Spikes organization for making it possible. I'm proud to be part of the sports turf industry, and proud to play a role in cultivating the next generation of sports fields and sports turf managers here in State College."
Other award recipients include Casey Griffin of the Albuquerque Isotopes at Triple-A, Brock Phipps of the Springfield Cardinals at Double-A and Greg Burgess of the Greenville Drive at Single-A.
Winners are selected via a 16-member awards committee, compiled by STMA. Each nominee is independently scored on cultural practices, game day routine, resource utilization, staff management and the groundskeeper's involvement and support of the sports turf industry.
"I want to acknowledge the safe and beautiful playing surfaces that all of our minor league members produce each year," says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. "The competition was fierce and the quality of the natural grass playing surfaces produced by these four award winners is stunning."
"Minor League Baseball takes great pride in providing the absolute best in playing field conditions for the thousands of players across our 15 leagues," said Minor League Baseball President & CEO Pat O'Conner. "Each year, along with STMA and John Deere, we recognize the individuals who have dedicated their careers to ensuring that our players are playing on the best surfaces possible, while also making their field aesthetically pleasing for the millions of fans that enjoy Minor League Baseball. On behalf of Minor League Baseball, I commend these guys on a job well done."
Medlar Field at Lubrano Park will play host to the Spikes' defense of their New York-Penn League title in 2017. For more information on season tickets, as well as a variety of group packages and experiences for the 2017 season, fans can inquire with a Spikes ticket representative at call (814) 272-1711.