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Wahoos Groundskeeper Lends Snappers A Hand

April 24, 2020

Having worked the playing surface at Blue Wahoos Stadium into prime condition, head groundskeeper Dustin Hannah traveled this week to tackle a bigger project. Hannah drove 15 hours Monday to Beloit, Wisconsin, where he led a team in field restoration at the Beloit Snappers venerable Pohlman Field. The Blue Wahoos

Having worked the playing surface at Blue Wahoos Stadium into prime condition, head groundskeeper Dustin Hannah traveled this week to tackle a bigger project.

Hannah drove 15 hours Monday to Beloit, Wisconsin, where he led a team in field restoration at the Beloit Snappers venerable Pohlman Field. The Blue Wahoos have a management contract with the Snappers, the Class A affiliate of the Oakland A’s in the Midwest League.

When Hannah arrived, he got some help.

Brian Digise, greens superintendent at the nearby Beloit Club, an exclusive private golf club, brought some of his employees and machinery to assist.

Together, they removed grass growing in the infield and baselines, restored the clay surface in the infield, evened the grass lip framing the infield, and brought the entire field back to life.

“I am very grateful for them,” said Hannah, a Crestview native in his third season as Blue Wahoos head groundskeeper after working at Roger Dean Stadium and spring training complexes for the Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals.

“The Beloit Club has been such a huge help to me. Those guys came over here right away and we knocked it out of the park in a couple days. Just working with them has been great.”

Their efforts were rewarded with a game-ready field the next day. The Beloit Snappers are in process of hiring their own groundskeeper.

“It has been wonderful having Dustin here,” said Snappers general manager Jeff Gray. “His expertise and working with a great group from the Beloit Club who have a lot of experience working on golf courses and grass and things like that.

“Then adding Dustin’s experience to help them feel more confident and comfortable working with it and getting the field into playing shape is great. So when we are able to play, we’ll be ready to roll.”

The global coronavirus pandemic has put all levels of professional baseball on hold, and no start dates have been set. But the Snappers also plan to have Pohlman Field host various amateur baseball games in the warmer months ahead.

“Especially with the harsh Wisconsin winters here, it’s great to get the field in playing shape every spring,” Gray said. “When we can play or have [American] Legion ball teams and other entities use the field, we’re going to try and use it to help the community as much as we can.

“It’s been great to have these two partnerships to make our field the best we can for the players.”

As Hannah drove through five states on I-65 in the Blue Wahoos’ decorated van, he got quite the reaction from fellow motorists.

“I had people honking horns and waving, so that was cool,” he said. “There were a lot of semis on the road, but not many personal vehicles. When I got out, I had a mask on and most people had masks on and then I used sanitizer all the time just to stay safe.”

Hannah will travel back to Pensacola on Friday after leaving a checklist for the Beloit Club turf staff and the Snappers to keep the field in optimum shape.

“I have a written plan for what needs to be done,” he said. “And I am a phone call away for these guys. There are still some touch-up things to do, but we can play baseball here today.

“There is now a benchmark set. It is easier to keep a field maintained than to rebuild. I’m happy to help them out and give guidance and share my knowledge.”