This Date In Royals History – November 11, 1994
This date marks a special though obscure anniversary for Kauffman Stadium. Since it opened as Royals Stadium in 1973, our home ballpark here in Kansas City has always been seen as one of baseball’s most beautiful. However on November 11, 1994 – one additional step allowed Kauffman Stadium to put down roots as one of the best all-around ballparks ever.
It was a Friday morning and Head Groundskeeper George Toma and his crew started laying the first strips of natural grass ever at Kauffman Stadium. The original grass surface was made of five varieties of bluegrass mixed with rye and had been trucked in overnight from a specialty grass farm in Fort Morgan, Colorado.
As the grass was rolled out on the playing field, Toma was quick to point out that just the morning before the sod had in fact been under five inches of snow in Colorado. The ‘Nitty Gritty Dirt Man’ knew he had some hardy stuff to work with…
Just A Bit More: George Toma is a true sports legend for Kansas City -though we don’t often recognize that status for contributors off the field of play. Sure we have George Brett, Frank White, Len Dawson, Tom Watson just to name a select few. But George Toma influence across professional sports is a strong legacy for our area as well.
George was working in minor league obscurity when he landed the job as groundskeeper for the ‘New’ Municipal Stadium with the arrival of the Kansas City Athletics in 1955. The field was in terrible shape when he took the job – so bad that some thought it was a hazard to the players. Before long Toma and his crew transformed the playing surface into one of the best in the game – the tradition of immaculate fields here in Kansas City started that day he was hired. And folks around the country and the world took notice…
George would later take on the project of preparing the Super Bowl field for the NFL, a tradition that continues to this day. He is a true legend and I’m glad that 15 years ago today he got to work his magic here at Kauffman Stadium taking a great ballpark and making in nearly PERFECT!
(Curt Nelson, Director – Royals Hall of Fame)