When Todd Bradley started as a seasonal grounds crew employee for Ripken Baseball in 2012, the Harford County native was looking for a job, not necessarily a career.
But now he runs Leidos Field at Ripken Stadium.
Bradley played organized baseball until he was 18, but when he went to college he knew he had to make sacrifices, and playing baseball was one of them.
"I wanted to stay as close to baseball as I could," Bradley said, now the assistant sports turf manager. "I tried to work my butt off and impress the right people."
And impress he did.
Bradley became full time in 2014 after working around the entire Ripken Baseball campus.
"Through diligence and hard work he almost created his own position, where even as a seasonal he began running the tournaments," Sports Turf Superintendent Patrick Coakley said. "The whole dynamic of running a tournament, making sure guys are needing where they need to be and doing the scheduling and dealing with weather issues (was impressive)."
So what did Bradley receive with his new field? Coakley said they are working on a new and improved title for Bradley, but Leidos Field got brand new dirt for the 2016 season and beyond.
It might not make every Ironbirds fan's Christmas list, but for a turf manager it's a dream come true.
According to Coakley, this new dirt is purchased from DuraEdge, a natural sand company instead of a material supplier, has the perfect ratio of sand, silt and clay and is used by the Baltimore Orioles, as well as minor league affiliates Bowie Baysox, Fredrick Keys and Delmarva Shorebirds.
"It can be wet and hold its structural integrity so that you get what you need to get out of it," Coakley said. "It brings this filed up one more level than it was."
Up until this year Bradley would occasional work on Leidos Field with other members of the grounds crew, but had mostly been working around the entire Ripken Baseball campus during Ironbirds' season. Now with a staff of 15 instead of 20 to 24 like they used to have, Bradley taking over day-to-day operations on Leidos Field for Coakley will allow Coakley to take on more of a role with the entire property.
"This is just a natural progression for him," Coakley said.
And Bradley is ready for the challenge.
"I grew up in this company dealing with eight (or) nine fields at one time, but being able to focus all my efforts on one field has been an awesome experience (so far)," Bradley said. "Because I've been able to do things my way and take my time and get everything perfect."