5 Questions, 5 Answers with MLB Consultant Murray Cook
In our third installment of the 5 questions, 5 answers I had the pleasure of having MLB Groundskeeper Consultant Murray Cook.
Murray started as a groundskeepeer in 1974 for the Salem Pirates class A Club in Virginia. Since 1989, he has worked for the Commissioners Office as a field and stadium consultant providing services in the development and management of numerous international MLB exhibition games, training camps, field maintenance seminars, etc.
As President of Brickman Sports Turf, he has provided services including field construction, design and maintenance services for the 2000, 2004, 2008 Olympics, USA Baseball, The International Baseball Federation, Minor League Baseball, Ripken Baseball and numerous major/minor/college/recreation fields around the world.
In 2005, he was one of the original MLB Pro Bloggers with groundskeeper.mlblogs.com, which is still active today.
Vince: Where was the toughest place to build and/or maintain a baseball field for an event?
Murray: It really depends on the era. When we built a baseball pitch on “the Oval” in London back in the 90”s that was tricky. The orioles vs. Cuba Series back in the late nineties in Havana was tough because of the lack of equipment and materials. The 2008 Beijing Olympic was challenging because the game is not a popular sport so training 100+ volunteers to understand what 1st base was or a pitching screen, drag etc was interesting.
VL: You have been all around the world for Major League Baseball developing and maintaining baseball fields, what city would you like the challenge of developing a baseball field?
MC: We are just beginning a project in Tel Aviv so I will let you know.
VL: As one of the original MLBloggers, how has your MLBlog helped with showing people the importance of your work?
MC: The blog is just a great way to share experiences and information with people around the world that are trying to figure out a way to develop a field for their city, team country etc.. I receive a lot of personal emails from people after reading one of the stories. One of my favorites was from a 14yr old in Zagreb Croatia that asked about how the grass changed color. He was referring to the stripping effect. It was his school project and the fact he chose this as a subject was pretty cool. One of my true passions is giving back and through this blog I’ve been able to help a lot of folks with their projects.
VL: Your first blogs were photos from the 2004 Athens Olympics, now that baseball has been rejected to be included in the 2020 Olympics, do you see this having significant impact on the game?
MC: Well first I need to borrow an old saying ‘It aint over till its over” There’s no doubt baseball and softball will eventually get back in the Olympics and I think with the new leadership at the IOC there is even a greater chance and the meantime we still have the WBC which is has been very successful and we have MLBI playing games around the world. Next week I head back over to Australia to assist my Ausie friends with the renovations for the 2014 MLB Opener between the dodgers and D-backs.That is going to be a really fun project
VL: As a die-hard baseball fan like me, what is the one moment that you can recite like it was yesterday?
MC: I have a couple:
1. Watching the Greek military pull a un-detonated world war II ordinance from the location of the main stadium field in Athens.
2. Building the first pitcher’s mound in the USSR in 1989. Ironically a year or so later the wall fell and some folks that took part in the diamond Diplomacy series like to think it was because of baseball .
Vincent Lombardi Jr. is the CEO of Outside Pitch Sports Network and outsidepitchmlb.com. He is also the Co-Host and Associate Producer of Outside Pitch MLB Podcast. He can be found on Twitter @vlombardijr