Kenny Berger Assistant Groundskeeper, Washington Nationals 

Growing up in Indian Harbour Beach, Kenny Berger is a life-long resident of Brevard County.  He excelled in baseball at Satellite High School before earning a scholarship to Valencia Community College in 1973.  In 1974, the Philadelphia Phillies drafted him, making it all the way to Double-A baseball before returning to Brevard County.  After a strong recommendation by current San Francisco Giants Manager Bruce Bochy, Kenny was hired in Viera in 1996 as a groundskeeper at Space Coast Stadium and has been there ever since.

Video by Katelyn Ellis

5:00 a.m.

I leave my house at 5 a.m. every day to meet my long-time coworker Mike Schnee for a morning coffee at a local coffee shop. We’re always the first ones in the café, and we discuss our daily tasks and take a breath before our day begins. It is a great way to start the morning.  

5:30 a.m. 

Arrive at the ballpark and get ready for the day. By 5:45 a.m., I take my cart to the Washington Nationals training complex and prepare our shop for the day’s schedule.  I check in with the minor league coaching staff to confirm all field activity. We have six full fields, two half fields and 30 bullpens, all of which are used on a daily basis.  

7:00 a.m.

Our crew arrives and we get to work. We open all of the fields by 7:15 a.m.; that includes removal of all the tarps and getting the mounds and plates ready. We water our fields each morning and repair any damage from overnight weather.  

During spring training we have our major league and minor league instructors that we work with to get the fields ready for play. We set up for batting practice, ground ball drills, outfield workouts, base running routines and bullpen sessions. It is important that our players and staff use all of the fields efficiently in order to properly train them for the regular season. Our entire crew takes tremendous pride in being a small part of that process.

Our practice schedule takes us until lunch, where we eat together as a group and discuss our afternoon activities.

2:30 – 4 p.m. 

It’s time to prep the fields for the games. During spring training, the major league games take place at the stadium, as well as two simultaneous games per day at the minor league training complex. 

During the summer and fall we continue to prepare fields for practice and minor league games. After the games begin on the fields, we continue to work on the unused fields and prepare them for the next day. We mow, weed, and rake them all each day to properly maintain them to a professional level.  After all of the players are gone, the mounds and plates are rebuilt and we verify the clay is properly treated.  

Off-season

The Washington Nationals training complex is a year round, fully self-operational facility. Our offseason routine doesn’t slow down much.  In addition to the daily field maintenance we also perform major renovations to the playing surfaces.  Each year we replace two entire fields to properly keep them in professional standard.  We spread 75 tons of brick track, 140 tons of top dressing sand, 44 tons of clay, and 1,200 pounds of rye seed to upkeep the playing surfaces. We laser-level each field, replace all of the mounds, and order and upkeep all of our equipment supplies.  

And then, just like everyone else… we wait for spring training!  

For more information on the Washington Nationals Spring Training, please visit Washington.Nationals.MLB.com


This article appears in the March 2015 issue of SpaceCoast Living.
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