Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, and that really is the case when you’re looking from the outside in through the Victory Field gates. It’s all thanks to Director of Field Operations, Joey Stevenson, and the work he leads his team through on a daily basis to
Sometimes the grass is greener on the other side, and that really is the case when you’re looking from the outside in through the Victory Field gates. It’s all thanks to Director of Field Operations, Joey Stevenson, and the work he leads his team through on a daily basis to create one of the most beautiful playing surfaces in Minor League Baseball.
From the crisp outfield lawn striping to the smooth infield dirt, from the straight-as-an-arrow foul lines to the bright contrast of an Indians or Opening Day logo in front of them, Stevenson is the mastermind behind it all.
A 2006 Purdue University graduate, Stevenson has always been drawn to baseball. He grew up on a farm in Dwight, Ill., and played baseball growing up. When he realized his career would fall short of the majors – around when he realized he couldn’t throw more than 80 MPH – he took that farming background and turned it into a way to stay in the game.
He spent time with the Joliet JackHammers, Philadelphia Phillies and Kansas City Royals before finding a home in downtown Indy in 2007.
Now, rising up from an internship role to being widely regarded as one of the best groundskeepers in the business over the last 14 years, Stevenson’s passion for keeping Victory Field’s natural turf beautiful has aided in turning the stadium into a can’t-miss destination.
What’s your favorite part of working for the Indians?
Just the notoriety that Victory Field and the Indians have acquired over the past 25 years. To be able to take care of what I think is considered a gem in downtown Indianapolis and something that nothing else in Central Indiana really has, the natural turf, has been great.
Best memory with the Indians?
The Super Bowl in 2012. We hosted the DirecTV Celebrity Beach Bowl on the field, a flag football game on a beach in center field. They constructed a portable airplane hanger, a million pounds of concrete and a million pounds of sand in the outfield, so it was fun to be a part of that. Of course, the best part was seeing the field completely destroyed and then having to turn it around one month before the season.
What are you most proud of in your time with the Indians?
I would say all of our grounds and field operations staff that has come through here. I’ve been here 14 years so that’s roughly 28 interns, some of them have gone onto Major League Baseball jobs, some have stayed in Minor League Baseball, some have gotten out of baseball completely, but all of them have gone on to be successful, good people.
What’s your daily game day routine like?
It typically starts the night before, focusing on the infield dirt and making sure the moisture is right. In the morning we do our typical mowing and dragging of the field before noon, and then the team takes the field for pregame warmups. Then we do our typical in-game tasks, putting down the bases, chalking the foul lines, dragging the infield between innings, and then hit the repeat button for the next day.
I really enjoy spending time with my wife and daughter since the baseball season is quite busy. I race go karts, so spending time on that is important and I am a huge racing fan, so spending time at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a must.
What was your dream job as a kid?
I don’t know, I’m pretty old. I grew up on a farm, so between the ages of three to 16 I wanted to be a farmer. Then I probably went through a phase where I wanted to be a pilot, and then I wanted to be a major league groundskeeper.
Do you still want to be an MLB groundskeeper, or is Indy the place for you?
The older I get, the more I feel Indy is my place. It provides a good work-family life balance and I’m close to my parents, and now that we have a little girl in kindergarten, I don’t know if I would want to pick up and move. Indy feels like home and just coming out of 2020, I feel like I want to be part of the future at Victory Field.
Does your lawn at home look as good as the Victory Field grass does?
This year it did, in 2020. Typically, it doesn’t, I try to add as much landscaping as possible, so I have less grass to mess with at home.