You get your first inkling of the care Michael Boettcher gives the grass in Miller Park right before he steps onto it: He pauses to knock the soil off of his shoes. In the big leagues, details matter. An errant bit of soil could divert a grounder, extend an inning and maybe change the game. As grounds manager for the Milwaukee Brewers, Boettcher can’t let that happen.
And he wants the field to look as perfect as it plays. No other patch of turf in Wisconsin gets as many looks as these two acres, and Boettcher has exact standards for the landscapes under his care. That began when he was growing up on his family’s Jackson County farm, where taking care of the grounds was one of his favorite chores. Even though he now has a crew of 40 to maintain the 250-acre Miller Park campus, he still climbs on the mower when he gets a chance to cut those perfect crosshatched patterns. Mowing is soothing, he says, and he loves the smell of fresh-cut grass.
Boettcher got his start in pro sports through a summer internship with Gary VandenBerg, the Brewers’ head groundskeeper. He loved it, and he made a good impression. Two years after graduation, the club invited him to join its landscape team and later promoted him to become VandenBerg’s first assistant. When VandenBerg passed away last fall after a battle with cancer, Boettcher took over his responsibilities for the remainder of the season.
Read more about Boettcher's job at Miller Park in the summer 2012 issue of Grow magazine.