MSU grads lead grounds crews
for World Series teams
For the second time in three years Michigan State University has made it to the World Series.
MSU sports and commercial turfgrass program graduates skipper the groundskeeping squads for both the Detroit Tigers and the San Francisco Giants. The best-of-seven-games series starts Wednesday in San Francisco and moves to Detroit Saturday.
Tigers head groundskeeper Heather Nabozny graduated in 1993 and landed her first professional job with the Toronto Blue Jays’ spring training facility in Dunedin, Fla. She became the first woman head groundskeeper in professional baseball when in 1994 she moved to Grand Rapids for the inaugural season of the West Michigan Whitecaps.
Called up to the majors in 1999, Nabozny again broke new ground by becoming the first woman to hold the head groundskeeper’s post at that level when she managed the field during the Tigers’ last season at Tiger Stadium. She has done so at Comerica Park ever since.
Greg Elliott, a 2002 MSU sports and commercial turfgrass program graduate, has been keeping AT&T Park in shape for the Giants for five seasons as head groundskeeper. He was the four-time South Atlantic League Groundskeeper of the Year for his maintenance of Classic Park, home of the Lake County Captains in Eastlake, Ohio.
Elliott’s team faced another ballclub treading on turf maintained by an MSU graduate on the grounds crew in the 2010 World Series, the Texas Rangers. The Giants took the title that year.
“This is the first time in history that both teams in the World Series have head groundskeepers from the same university,” said MSU turfgrass specialist David Gilstrap, who advised both at MSU and has placed many interns with each of them. “Our program is the only one that has more than one graduate in such top-level positions.”
MSU turfgrass faculty and students are active around the country and the world, having worked on several Olympic facilities and created the world’s first indoor portable athletic field for the 1994 World Cup in the Pontiac Silverdome.