FORT WAYNE, Ind. - For the first time ever, Keith Winter and the Fort Wayne TinCaps Grounds Crew have won professional baseball's "Field of the Year" award. The honor, for which all teams in Major League Baseball, Minor League Baseball, and independent leagues were eligible, is awarded by Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA).
"Winning the STMA professional baseball Field of the Year award is a great honor because it encompasses fields at all levels," said Winter, the TinCaps' Head Groundskeeper. "The continued recognition of Parkview Field as one of the country's top professional baseball fields is a credit to the commitment of our ownership group, our front office, and the diligent work of my crew, especially my two assistants, Ryan Lehrman and Jake Sperry."
A panel of 13 judges independently scored entries based on playability, appearance of surfaces, utilization of innovative solutions, effective use of budget, and implementation of a comprehensive agronomic program.
Other "field of the year" winners included Georgia Tech football, South Carolina Upstate baseball, Stetson University softball, and FC Dallas of Major League Soccer. Winning fields will be featured in a 2018 issue of SportsTurf Magazine, STMA's monthly publication.
"Each year our Awards Committee independently selects the safest and most playable natural grass playing surfaces exemplifying the sports turf manager's hard work and dedication," said Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. "With an increase in applicants year over year, we are ecstatic to see the growing number of outstanding sports turf managers continually raise the bar with the fields they prepare and maintain."
Since the honor was first awarded in 1988, this marks just the second time it's been earned by a Midwest League team (Wisconsin, 2008.) Excluding MLB spring training venues, it's also only the third time a Single-A team has achieved this accomplishment (Greenville, 2012).
The TinCaps' grounds crew will receive their award at the 29th annual STMA Conference & Exhibition in Fort Worth, Texas, Jan. 16-19, 2018.
Parkview Field's playing surface plays host to not only 70-plus TinCaps games each year, but also 12 high school games, the Fort4Fitness running race festival, concerts, and dozens of other special events.
The TinCaps have won the Midwest League's Grounds Crew of the Year award six times in the last eight years. Additionally, Winter garnered Minor League Baseball's Single-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.