Sports

It's Not Iowa, But to Roxbury Baseball Their Field Is Heaven

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Dan Hankowski rakes down the infield after a game. Credits: Mary Axelson
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Coach Trotter tends to the pitchers mound after a Roxbury High School game. Credits: Mary Axelson
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Tucker Voelbel brings out some dirt to mend the infield. Credits: Mary Axelson
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Andy Axelson prepares the plate for the next Roxbury High School Game. Credits: Mary Axelson
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Billy Lanno rakes third base sideline
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ROXBURY, NJ – He was a high school kid then, but Roxbury High School Baseball Coach Greg Trotter still remembers his first at-bat on the Roxbury  High School baseball field. Playing for Mount Olive, Trotter was impressed with the field’s quality.

“I always thought one of the best fields to play in Morris County was the Roxbury field, so it’s somewhat ironic I ended up coaching on the very field I played on years before,” said Trotter.

He said his coach at Rowan University taught him to maintain and take pride in his school’s baseball field. When Trotter began his tenure at Roxbury he brought with him that ethic.

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Trotter has a rule: Every team member who plays on the Roxbury baseball field must also participate - with some serious sweat-equity - to prepare and maintain it. 

Every year you can see this in action. Varsity baseball players armed with rakes, shovels and wheelbarrows are regularly hitting the dirt to clean, cultivate and grow their baseball park into Morris County’s finest grass field.

Coach Ryan Roumes, a recent Roxbury baseball player, knows the value of Trotter’s field maintenance rule. “The mindset of caring for the field starts with Trot and you see it in the faces and hard work of the upperclassman who share their pride in that field with the younger team members,” he said.

It’s not just the young baseball players who work hard to keep the emerald green field in perfect playing condition. The Roxbury High School Building and Grounds Crew devotes a great deal of time and effort getting the perfect mix of dirt for the pitcher’s mound, infield, batters boxes and batting cages. In fact, all Roxbury’s infield dirt mixes and mound clay are from Partac Peat Corp. in Great Meadows, the same dirt used by the New York Yankees. 

“When it comes to game day, I’ve got the one guy that coach allows to cut that field to perfection: Joe Pinto,” said grounds crew director John Eschmann. He’s quick to say his crew members - including Nick Pinto, Don Sherrer and Steve Moskowitz - are all-star maintenance men that toil by day to maintain the field but are the first to line the fences when the boys play ball.

The teamwork between the baseball team, the coaches and ground crew is legendary in Roxbury. At the end of football season, the baseball field gets a huge fall cleaning by all three groups working together to rid the field of fallen branches, leaves and debris. 

This is when the field is fed a natural fertilizer to prepare it for spring growth and healthy grass. As March approaches, the field begins its last beautification program where dirt is leveled, grass is manicured and lines are drawn. 

Senior Tucker Voelbel summed it up. “It’s awesome to be able to play on one of the best looking, if not the best, fields in the county,” said Voelbel. “Playing baseball at home when spring is just starting … There’s nothing better.”

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