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With baseball season around the corner, area teams are preparing for the upcoming year. With practices taking place and players working on their game, very few think of the other aspects that need work as well.
Braving the frigid temperatures of last week, New Albany resident Charles Brunetti and his staff are hard at work, preparing New Albany High's baseball field for the 2009 season. From laying clay and laser grading to even the infield with the outfield, a lot of preparation and work goes into managing a baseball field.
“Every year you need to add clay to your infield, and if you don't it starts getting lower and lower,” Brunetti explained. “We'll add usually one to two loads, and if it hasn't been done in a while, sometimes it's three or four loads. Loads are around 24 tons, and we'll put it on the field, then we'll laser grade it out. By that time, your infield is level with the outfield.”
Always loving the outdoors, Brunetti knew early on the the typical office job wasn't for him, and became interested in turf management as a student at Mississippi State.
“I've always liked to be outside,” Brunetti said. “My father is a farmer, and I've always played in the dirt, always worked in it. I got interested in this because we're always outside and not cooped up in an office.
Brunetti graduated with a degree in golf and turf management in 2001. After interning in Clinton and Mississippi State, Brunetti received an amazing opportunity to work with the Boston Red Sox.
First as an intern, then as a full time employee, Brunetti learned every aspect of managing a baseball field.
“As an intern, we got to do pretty much almost anything from mowing patterns, to all the dirt work to how to do upkeep on all of your ball fields, as well as the differences in clays and grasses,” Brunetti said. “As a full time worker, I got immersed in running a large crew. With colleges to park and rec, you usually have two guys, whereas we had close to 40 guys. Dealing with and keeping all of the guys busy to making sure that everything is up to par because everything has to be perfect with a major league field. The main thing was just managing dirt and knowing what you have to do to have a smooth playing surface through the whole year.”
Not allowing himself to get caught up in the glamour of working at one of the most historic fields in Major League Baseball, Brunetti gained valuable experience during his four and a half years at Fenway.
“Your first couple of weeks, you're at awe, but after that, it's a job,” Brunetti said. “You've got to do your best ability to keep your mind focused on doing your job right and making sure you don't get caught up in the awe of just not the park, but all of the players that come through there.”
Now managing his own company, Diamond Design and Construction, Brunetti works on about 20-30 fields ranging from Alabama, south Louisiana, central Arkansas and all of Mississippi.
“Some it's a day to two day job, others it's a two week job, so it varies on what all they want done, but a majority of the baseball and softball jobs just want clay added, till it all together, laser grade it, roll it and put conditioner on it,” Brunetti said.
So when looking at your team's field this season, remember that there is a lot more that goes into the upkeep of a field than just mowing the grass, and as far as an expert in the field, New Albany is home to one of the best in the business.