KANSAS CITY – All the attention on this Royal run is on the players, and rightly so.
But tonight KSN’s Mark Davidson focuses on the man who makes sure Kauffman Stadium is ready for the World Series.
Growing up in Kansas City, Mark always saw Kauffman Stadium as a baseball cathedral.
But nationally, it has a reputation as one of the better ballparks.
Everything from the recent renovation to the signature fountains to the playing surface itself.
Legendary groundskeeper George Toma laid the groundwork and there’s no mistaking his influence on the field today.
The product of those lessons is now on display for the world to see. Trevor Vance has been in charge of the grounds at Kauffman stadium for 17 years, after taking over for George Toma. But this is without question the biggest showcase for his staff.
“There’d be no Trevor without George, I mean he made me who I am today when it comes to groundskeeping,” said Toma. “We’re trying to make KC proud. We think we’ve got a good product out there and hopefully it’s a good backdrop for a Royals victory tonight.”
And no one’s prouder than the teacher himself, at 85 years old, Toma is back at the K, admiring the man he calls the best groundskeeper in the game.
“I tell the Royals players and Trevor, he’s the number ten man on this club, because when they go out to play, they don’t have to worry about a bad hop,” said Toma.
It’s high praise from a Royals’ Hall of Famer, who has been around for all three of the team’s World Series appearances.
“We had a great World Series in 1985, but this is greater. The town and the us is so electric about the Royals,” said Vance.
His place on the field is far from ceremonial; Vance has put him to work. And that’s just fine by Toma because this feels right at home.
“I could never repay him for everything he taught me and everything, but for him to get out here and grab a rake. It means the world to him, and it’s just like watching your grandpa go out there.”
Mark Davidson shared a story with Mr.Toma, talking about the time he was at Kauffman Stadium as a kid on a steamy July day, when a man with a rake walked up and put a handful of bubble gum on the ledge by our seats. That man was George Toma. Mark thanked him for the interview, but before he left Toma reached out his hand and gave Mark several pieces of Double Bubble.