NORFOLK, Va. - For the first time since September 2019, the Norfolk Tides are ready to play baseball at Harbor Park, but Harbor Park's field has been ready for baseball for far longer.
"I kept it going just like I would if we were gonna play," head groundskeeper Kenny Magner said. "I never let it get out of hand so now went right into the season just like we never missed a beat."
While no baseball was played in Harbor Park in 2020, the field still had to be maintained and head groundskeeper Kenny Magner, who's been with the team since the 1970s, was the guy getting the job done.
"I’d be the only one out here mowing and taking care of business and it was probably the most quietest time I've ever had out here," Magner said. "I love the job, but that was unbelievably quiet."
It wasn't just the absence of Tides players and fans that made it quiet, but the absence of his teammate, as well. Assistant groundskeeper Justin Hall was laid off in June after the 2020 season was officially canceled. Although, by August, he was already back in the groundskeeping game, this time, in the National Football League with the Tennessee Titans.
"It was fun to go down and learn a different sport. I've been in baseball for, this will be my tenth year total. Different that’s for sure," Hall said about the transition from baseball to football. "I think the biggest thing is obviously the watering. With the dirt you’ve gotta keep that wet for here and for football there’s none of that. It's just the turf, so it’s a lot of paint for football which was new for me because I've never done that, painting logos or anything like that with the paint machine, so that was the biggest difference."
With Tides baseball back in Norfolk, Hall's back as well.
There are less than 24 hours until Norfolk's home opener and the grounds crew is excited for their har work to be on display for the first time since 2019.
"I’m excited.," Hall said. "I'm very much looking forward to Opening Day and getting people back in here."
"I'm looking forward for all of us to get back together and get back to the way we were," Magner said. "It's coming along slowly. I'm looking forward to the fans coming in to see that the field was, nobody played, but it was kept up. It was never let go."