Akron RubberDucks' playing surface at Canal Park and head groundskeeper Chris Walsh were named the 2018 Turface Athletics Ohio Field of the Year by the Ohio Sports Turf Managers Association (OSTMA) at its annual meeting on Dec. 5.
It is the first time Canal Park has been honored by the OSTMA. The award considers playing surfaces from all levels of Ohio sports, including high school, parks and recreational, and collegiate. It recognizes an individual and organization for their persistence in maintaining safe and aesthetically pleasing playing surfaces. Board members nominate award candidates who are then voted on by the OSTMA members. Turface Athletics is the award's presenting sponsor.
"It's an honor to receive this award. I want to thank the OSTMA board and its members for selecting Canal Park. I couldn't have done it without the help of my assistant James Petrella, my grounds crew, and my turf dog Duke," said Walsh. I also want to thank the RubberDucks front office, but most importantly, I couldn't do what I do without the constant support of my wife Chrystie and our son Declan."
"We are thrilled Chris Walsh, James Petrella and their entire team was recognized with such a much-deserved honor," said RubberDucks General Manager/COO Jim Pfander. "They work tirelessly to keep the playing surface in outstanding shape for 70 RubberDucks games, plus 30-40 additional special events such as the Akron Marathon, high school baseball games, charity events, and all those thousands of kids who run the bases and stampede in the outfield during our Sunday Family FUNdays at Canal Park."
The 2019 season will be Walsh's ninth with the RubberDucks organization. He was named the 2016 Eastern League Diamond Pro Sports Field Manager of the Year. Prior to that season, the RubberDucks teamed with the City of Akron to completely renovate Canal Park's field, including drainage and irrigation systems. Walsh oversaw the installation efforts before overseeing the field in a championship-winning season that included Akron's first time hosting the EL All-Star Game.
The Akron RubberDucks are the Double-A affiliate of the Cleveland Indians. The 2019 season, powered by FirstEnergy, will be the franchise's 23rd since moving to Akron and the 2019 Home Opener is on Thursday, April 4, at 6:35 p.m. vs. Altoona Curve.
For more information about the team, please visit the RubberDucks' website, www.akronrubberducks.com, Facebook page www.facebook.com/AkronRubberDucks, Twitter feed @AkronRubberDuck, and Instagram at @akronrubberducks. Tickets packages for the 2019 season can be ordered online or by calling 330-253-5151 Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.