Smith-Cotton High School and Jeff Mays, head groundskeeper for Dey Field at Liberty Park Stadium, have been honored by the National High School Baseball Coaches Association with the Midwest Region 5 2013 Regional Field of the Year Award.
Region 5 includes Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. A committee of coaches nominates fields and groundskeepers after making unannounced visits to facilities. Mays said Liberty Park Stadium has been honored at the state level before, but this is the first time it received the regional award.
Mays said the foundation for the award was built years ago through the efforts of former groundskeeper Larry Jackson, longtime Sedalia baseball coach Bill Dey and Sedalia Parks and Recreation Director Mark Hewett. Mays added that the award is a tribute to everyone – including current and former players, coaches, parents and community members – who has donated time to keep the field in top condition.
“This is a community award – it is for all who have helped keep the field in great shape,” Mays said. “No one has ever been paid a dime to work here. They do it for the love of the game, for the love of the stadium.”
Mays puts in 30 to 40 hours a week to prepare the field for games. He thanked the parks department, assistant groundskeeper Dustin Broaddus and the vendors and donors whose contributions of time, materials and financial support made the award possible.
“This is an amazing place to be to come watch a game,” he said. “Players come back here all the time and say this is the nicest place they’ve every played.”