Preparations in place for World Series
Gates will open three hours before first pitch on game days
CHICAGO -- As the commotion surrounding the White Sox workout on Wednesday came to a close and the field was barren, three men remained on the field with a large white stencil.
Roger Bossard, the White Sox head groundskeeper, stood close by supervising as they began to stencil the outline of the World Series logo on the grass of U.S. Cellular Field.
The placement of the official logos on the field is just one of the many steps that the White Sox have undertaken to prepare for hosting their first World Series in 46 years.
Preparing to host such a large event has made for countless, long hours for club employees, but it's something that each is looking forward to -- but maybe none more than Bossard himself.
Bossard is in his 39th year with the White Sox and this will mark his first World Series. Being on the grounds crew on the South Side is the family business for Bossard, whose father Gene was the head groundskeeper before him.
The last time that the Sox hosted a Fall Classic, Bossard was 10 years old and didn't quite understand then what it meant to be a part of it.
"I have great memories of '59 and being there, but I didn't know just how special," Bossard said. "The first thing I thought about when they won the other night was my dad, because my dad was here for the last one. I can remember him telling me how special it was, but until you're really there, you don't realize it. Now that I'm here, I realize it. It's a chance of a lifetime."
Besides the increased media attention and national focus on the White Sox, not much will change with the arrival of the World Series.
White Sox vice president of communications Scott Reifert said that the park is ready to go right now with most of the preparations being completed when the team hosted the American League Championship Series.
"All of the preparations that were made to host the LCS are the same that go into hosting a World Series," Reifert said. "The Division Series is a bit different -- more like a big Cubs-Sox weekend -- but things have been ready here to host a World Series game since Day 1 of the LCS."
Despite almost everything remaining the same, there are a few slight changes the team has made for the big weekend. One of those changes will be to open the gates at 3:30 p.m. CT on game days, three hours before first pitch, to make sure that fans can arrive in time to not miss any of the pregame activities. Along with the earlier opening of the gates, parking lots will also open an hour earlier.
"We wanted to make sure that people could get out to see batting practice and take part in all the ceremonies that surround such a special event," Reifert said.
Hosting such an event also has thrown a few kinks into activities that would normally be taking place this time of the year. Bossard was busy working on the logo for the field on Wednesday but his original plans for this date had him planting a new field.
The grass at U.S. Cellular has been there for seven seasons and Bossard has marked this season as the one he would install a new field. Bossard has been in the process of creating a new grass along with Dr. Hank Wilkinson, a turfgrass professor at the University of Illinois. The grass has been in the planning stages for 4 1/2 years and the new grass should hold up better in hot conditions like Chicago experienced this summer.
"With what's going on with the World Series now, I have to hold off until next year," Bossard said. "Obviously, I say that with a smile on my face as this is my 39th year and this is what I've been waiting for. The replacing of the grass and rebuilding of the dirt can definitely wait one more year."
Bossard is also being careful not to change anything from his usual routine to mess with the field. He said that the condition of the field seems to be exactly the way the players like it, and that's how he'll keep it.
"I'm not changing anything," Bossard laughed. "I don't want any bad hops"
The only thing that might change though is Bossard's travel schedule. With his hesitancy to leave his field during such a busy time of the season, Bossard has yet to make a road playoff trip with the club, but that may change this time around.
If the Sox are up 3-1 and have a chance to win the World Series in either Houston or St. Louis, Bossard said there is no doubt that he will leave his precious field behind for a day.
"I'm gone," Bossard said with a smile. "I'm gone."
Kelly Thesier is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.