Do fans ever wonder who keeps the Coliseum’s field looking good? Most likely not, but Clay Wood needs some recognition. Wood is the head groundskeeper for the Oakland Athletics, and as of 2015, has been with the Oakland Athletics organization for 26 years, including 21 years as the head groundskeeper.
Clay has done an extraordinary job that often goes unnoticed. He is one of the first people to arrive at the Coliseum and one of the last to leave, due to the countless hours of field preparation. He is very appreciated by the players and coaching staffs but is under appreciated by the casual fan. The field always looks great, even counting the games when the Raiders have just played and the A’s play a game soon after. He has the very important job of presenting the field almost daily to tens of thousands of people, 81 times each season.
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Clay and his crew are always out prepping the field before every game. The tasks that he and his crew members do to get the field ready include driving the tractors, doing donuts throughout the infield and smoothing down the dirt. They make sure the dirt has no clumps with a drag, and draw perfect chalk lines in the batters’ box and up the first and third base lines.
The grass in the outfield and infield is a perfect length, which looks amazing from an aerial view and is just the right color of green, popping in the sunshine. The outfield grass has sections that criss-cross, checkered-style, going different ways throughout the outfield. It may not be the most glamorous job, but someone has to do it, and Clay does it exceptionally well. After keeping the field in pristine condition, day in and day out for well-over two decades, Clay deserves a tip of the cap.
Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The only blemish on Clay Wood’s resume was on April 4, 2014 – a rain out game against the Seattle Mariners. His decision not to cover the infield with tarps the previous night turned out to be a disaster. After he left the field the previous night, he made the decision to leave the tarps off to air out the infield, and it ended up pouring rain throughout that night until the next morning. When he arrived at the ballpark that morning, the infield was underwater. Despite working frantically with his crew throughout the day before the game, the infield was deemed unplayable by umpires and coaches.
A’s fans then heard Dick Callahan announce that the game had been canceled due to a rain out. A rain out when it was not raining?
“What is going on?” every A’s fan asked themselves. When it hit everyone that the game was really canceled, A’s fans began raining the field with boos – no pun intended.
Despite that mishap, Clay is one of the best head groundskeeper in the league and a very important member of the Athletics’ organization.