Warriors baseball’s 10th man: groundskeeper Gary Crawford

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He has never had an at-bat or pitched an inning, but he’s on the field before every El Camino Warriors’ baseball game.

“Every year he is in the team picture,” Warriors’ coach Nate Fernley said. “He is one of the guys. He is a part of our family.”

Gary Crawford, groundskeeper for Warrior Field, El Camino College’s baseball field, makes sure the field is ready to go for every Warriors’ home baseball game.

Crawford’s game day routine of preparing the field takes about six hours. He begins the job by mowing the visitor’s bullpen and works his way around the field. Crawford saves the warning track, the area of the field closest to the walls, for last.

When his work is done, Crawford stays around the field to watch the first few innings of Warriors’ games and keeps updated on how the team is doing.

Crawford is all about getting the job done right, Warriors’ assistant coach Nick Jones said.

“[It’s] great to have someone who cares so much,” Jones said.

Crawford didn’t immediately step into the role as groundskeeper. Warriors baseball coaches saw the conditions of the lawns he was caring for on campus and were convinced he was the man for their field.

“I never met the coaches before getting the job,” Crawford said. “I saw the field before getting the job and wanted to work on it.

Crawford does a great job because he takes pride in his work, Fernley said.

“It’s great, I have not seen someone have a lot of pride in what they do [like Crawford],” Fernley said. “He is a great guy, and we have a good working relationship.”

In the beginning days of being Warrior Field’s groundskeeper, Crawford would look at the field, reflect on his work and thought of ways he could improve the field’s conditions. Every time he noticed something he didn’t like he would take note of it and evolve his work.

The process of improving never stops, even to this day.

“Sometimes I google or go on YouTube to learn how to do new things,” Crawford said.

It gives Crawford an inner satisfaction to making the baseball field look precise. Specifically, he takes a lot of pride in the foul lines coming out nice and straight.

“The players work hard, so I try to help make the field look good,” Crawford said.

Before being Warrior Field’s groundskeeper, Crawford was a bartender and a fitness trainer. But one day, a parks department job at the city of Torrance appeared on his radar.

“I have always been into gardening,” Crawford said. “I love it and it’s peaceful.”

When the El Camino Warriors’ baseball team marches forward through their season, Crawford will follow, making sure both foul lines are straight, the warning track is flat and the pattern of circles radiating from pitcher’s mound are distinct enough that everyone can see at Warrior Field.

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