KINSTON, NC - The Carolina League awarded Grainger Stadium as the Field of the Year on Friday after a league-wide vote by managers and their coaching staffs. Head Groundskeeper Stephen Watson earns the honor for the second straight season and is named Sports Turf Manager of the Year in the Carolina League.
"I certainly want to thank [assistant groundskeepers] Ethan [Chapin] and Logan [Robinson] for all of the work they've done this year and my crew that's done a fantastic job," Watson said. "I could not do this without them."
Watson's crew included assistant groundskeepers Logan Robinson and Ethan Chapin, as well as Mason Hughes, Hal Oliver, Andy Sullivan, and Mike Ulrich.
Votes were tallied on 11 different categories for the quality of all aspects of the field and grounds crew. The grading was on a scale of one-to-five, with five as excellent and one as poor. The scores from the votes were averaged and added together for a cumulative total - with a perfect score as a 55. Those categories were:
- Field set-up for batting practice
- Field preparation for game
- Overall playing surface
- Dirt areas
- Infield turf
- Outfield turf
- Home plate area
- Bullpen areas
- Warning track
- Pitcher's mound
- Professionalism of crew
Grainger Stadium finished in first or tied for first in 10 of the 11 categories; accumulating a score of 47.80 to earn the title - a higher score than last season. Salem's Haley Toyota Field finished second and Carolina's Five County Stadium earned third place.
"There's nine other groundskeepers in this league that are doing the same things I'm doing and they're fighting the same battles," Watson said. "I certainly give a nod and our hat off to them as well."
The award is the third overall for Watson since he took over at Grainger Stadium in 2008. He also earned the honor in 2009 with the Kinston Indians. "It's support from my coaching staffs, it's support from the city, helping me maintain it along the way."
***EDIT 1:00 P.M. 8/31/18 - An earlier version of this release had Myrtle Beach listed as the team in third place. After a calculating error discovered by the Carolina League office, the proper results indicate Carolina's Five County Stadium finished third place.***
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.