Honorees from Gwinnett, Springfield, Fort Wayne, Connecticut
Chris Ball was named the best in a classification for the third time. (Karl Moore/Gwinnett Braves)
By Minor League Baseball | November 7, 2013 10:59 AM ET
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Chris Ball, Brock Phipps, Keith Winter and Bryan Barkley have been selected as their respective classification winners in the 13th annual Sports Turf Manager of the Year Awards, sponsored by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA). The quartet will receive their awards at the Baseball Winter Meetings Awards Luncheon at the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Resort in Orlando, Fla., on Monday, Dec. 9.
Ball has worked for the Triple-A Gwinnett Braves since 2011. He is the first sports turf manager to be selected as a winner in multiple classifications, having been honored as the Class A winner in 2007 and 2010, while working for the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Phipps is the Double-A honoree for the second time. He also was named the top sports turf manager in the classification in 2008 for his work with the Springfield Cardinals and has now won Texas League honors five times (2007-08, 2011-12).
Winter, of the Fort Wayne TinCaps, is the Class A winner. He has been selected as the top sports turf manager in the Midwest League for three straight years. Barkley of the Connecticut Tigers (New York-Penn League) is the Short Season-A™/Rookie® classification winner.
Phipps and Winter are among six of the 16 honorees who also won league honors last year. The others include the Clearwater Threshers Opie Cheek, who has won the Florida State League award 10 years in a row; seven-time Mexican League winner Florencio Vidal Miranda of the Tigres de Quintana Roo (2003-06, 2009, 2012); Peter Hayes of the Lake Elsinore Storm, who has now been chosen four times in the California League (2009, 2011-12); and John Barta of the Pioneer League Billings Mustangs.
Eric Blanton of the Reno Aces (Pacific Coast) and the Greenville Drive's Greg Burgess (South Atlantic) are also prior winners. Blanton also won the PCL award in 2009 and 2011 and received top honors in the Eastern League in 2007-08, while with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats in the Eastern League. He was the Double-A honoree in 2007. Burgess was also his league's recipient in 2008 and 2010.
First-time league honorees, other than Barkley, include Ben Young of the Altoona Curve (Eastern); the Pensacola Blue Wahoos' Ray Sayre (Southern); Doug Tanis of the Winston-Salem Dash (Carolina); the Spokane Indians' Trevor Heilman (Northwest); John Bennett of the Greeneville Astros (Appalachian); and Matt Johnson of the Gulf Coast League Blue Jays.
The STMA provides educational opportunities and support so that sports turf managers can provide the best sports surfaces for all levels of play.