George Toma inducted into MLB Groundskeeper Hall of Fame

The new MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame inducted their first class on Sunday, with a Kansas City legend joining the ranks.  George Toma, formerly the groundskeeper for the Kansas City Athletics, Chiefs and Royals, received the honor at a ceremony in Anaheim.  Here’s the press release:

EMIL BOSSARD & GEORGE TOMA INAUGURAL INDUCTEES IN MLB GROUNDSKEEPER HALL OF FAME

The association of Major League Baseball Groundskeepers has selected two legends of their profession as the inaugural inductees to the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame.

Emil Bossard and George Toma were inducted on January 8, 2012 during the 14th annual meeting of Major League Baseball Groundskeepers in Anaheim. The names of Bossard and Toma are inscribed on the award’s trophy (photo attached) in recognition of their “dedication and outstanding contributions to Major League Baseball and the sports turf industry.” The trophy is named for Gary Vanden Berg, the longtime Milwaukee Brewers Groundskeeper who died in October.

Bossard and Toma were nominated by the groundskeeper Hall of Fame Committee and approved by the membership. Committee members are Bill Deacon, New York Mets; Trevor Vance and Justin Scott, Kansas City Royals; Mark Razum, Colorado Rockies; and Bob Christofferson, Seattle Mariners. Plans are to continue to recognize individuals who have made a significant impact on baseball, the sports turf industry and their communities by inducting new members each year.

Emil Bossard

Bossard, who died in 1980 at the age of 88, began his 70-year career in baseball in 1910 as the head groundskeeper for the St. Paul Saints at Lexington Park. During his 25 years with the Saints, Bossard built a reputation for the best playing field in the American Association. In 1935, he was hired by the Cleveland Indians to manage fields at League Park and Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Over the years, Bossard consulted with numerous teams on the design and construction of Spring Training and regular season playing surfaces.

Bossard is a patriarch of the legendary groundskeeping dynasty. His sons Harold, Marshall and Eugene (Gene) all served as Major League groundskeepers, and his grandsons Roger and Brian, great-grandson James, and great-great-grandson Andrew all are carrying on the family business.

George Toma

Toma learned his craft from Bossard while working in the Indians’ minor league system. His 60-year career also included stops in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., Buffalo, N.Y., and Charleston, W.V. In Kansas City, Toma began his head groundskeeper career in 1957 with the Kansas City Athletics (1957-1967). He was with the Kansas City Royals from 1969-1997, and the Kansas City Chiefs of the NFL. Toma is now semi-retired, but still works each Super Bowl and tends the Spring Training fields in Ft. Myers, Fla., for the Minnesota Twins. In 2001, Toma was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame as the recipient of the Daniel F. Reeves Pioneer Award.

Gary Vanden Berg

Gary Vanden Berg was a member of the Milwaukee Brewers organization for more than 30 years. He began his career with the Brewers in 1981 as an assistant Superintendent of Grounds and served more than 20 years as the club’s Director of Grounds. After a long battle with cancer, Vanden Berg died on October 10, 2011. He was respected not only for the work he did, but for who he was. Upon his death, the Major League Groundskeeper association members unanimously agreed to name the Hall of Fame trophy in his honor.

Guidelines for selection to the Groundskeeper Hall of Fame

To be considered for induction to the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame, a person must have ceased to be employed full-time in the profession for at least five years and have made a significant contribution to groundskeeping and/or the sports turf industry at the Major League level. An individual’s impact on the community will also be considered. The names of nominees will be submitted to the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers association for a vote. A nominee must receive 75% of the vote of all active association members.

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