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Published on: Monday, July 8, 2024 read more ...

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Fielding Relationships: ANC Horticulture and Interment Operations Team Up with Nationals Park Grounds Crew

By on 5/20/2024

By Olivia Van Den Heuvel, Public Affairs Specialist

On Monday, May 13, members of Arlington National Cemetery’s Horticulture and Interment Operations directorates teamed up with the grounds crew at Nationals Park, home of Washington D.C.’s Major League Baseball team, the Washington Nationals.

The engagement provided an opportunity for the ANC team to learn about the continuous care and maintenance practices required to upkeep a professional baseball field. In turn, they shared their knowledge and expertise on the daily operations of Arlington National Cemetery’s sacred grounds.

The day began with a rare opportunity to walk onto the Nationals Park field to experience an up-close look and feel of the sand and turf. From the outfield, Nationals Director of Field Operations John Turnour provided an in-depth breakdown of the lawn care practices at the ballpark.

“When the team is in town, we’re mowing the field anywhere from one to three times per day,” said Turnour. He explained that the grass is kept at a height of around one inch, for both aesthetic and practical purposes—noting that a baseball could move much slower or faster based on the length of the grass.

ANC Turf Agronomist Eugene Stano Jr. found this fascinating, given that Arlington’s standard is to maintain the turf between three and five inches. Stano, an Air Force veteran, appreciated the different perspective that the grounds crew at Nationals Park gave him. “There are always things other people are doing that could help us improve, and just having that comparison from one area to another really gives us a great advantage,” he said.

ANC Urban Forester and avid baseball fan Greg Huse had a similar outlook. “This was my first time on a professional field, so it was very cool for me,” he remarked. “At ANC, it’s much more of a natural setting. The Nats field is highly managed and visible for both in-stadium and TV audiences, so that was an interesting contrast.”

Ongoing collaboration with the Nationals reflects ANC’s unique connection to baseball. The cemetery serves as the final resting place for a long list of baseball pioneers and service members, including Elmer Gedeon, Luzerne "Lu" Blue and Ernest "Jud" Wilson.

Despite the vast differences in their daily operations and overall mission, the ground crews of both ANC and the Nationals came together to share their passions in maintaining pristine green space and ensuring meticulous and professional care of the outdoor environment. Turnour noted that ANC’s grounds crew’s work holds great significance, due to the millions who visit each year to pay their respects to the fallen. “You can’t help but notice just how pristine and beautiful the property is,” he said. “That’s really what we’re going for here as well, for all the visitors, guests and fans who come to the ballpark.”