Watching the grass grow is a cliche that implies something mundane. Walk a few days in Monte McCoy's tennis shoes at The Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark, and that saying has a much different meaning.
McCoy, 42, is the head groundskeeper of the Oklahoma City RedHawks. He is in his 16th professional season of not only trying to maintain a safe and nice looking field, but all the while attempting to accomplish the near impossible — trying to anticipate Oklahoma's weather.
Whittle those previous 15 seasons down to two, 2007 and 2011, for just a pinch of the craziness that has become a norm for McCoy.
“The most stressful part about my job is just dealing with the weather,” the Lindsay native said. “Because it's not just hard on us, but if we don't get it covered or something happens it's not just all our hard work that goes to waste, it's the sales, the concessions, everybody that's getting ready for the game, it's to no avail if the field's unplayable.
“The extremes in Oklahoma weather are really atrocious, but you just learn to live with it.”
From April through September 2007, 38.6 inches of rain was recorded in Oklahoma City. The temperature never got above 92 that June and didn't reach triple-digits until August. The six days of 100s were the only triple-digits in 2007.
“That summer it was rain every day and after awhile you just get used to it,” he said. But tarping the infield day after day makes the grass more prone to diseases, he said.
However, the only time they missed any games was when it was pouring at game time. And that was very rare.
In contrast, 2011 was a summer of record heat, both statewide and for individual cities and towns.
Oklahoma City had its first triple-digit day June 14 and its last on September 13. In all, Oklahoma City had a record 63 such days in 2011.
“Last season it was just the high temperatures, over and over,” McCoy said. “It just really starts taking a toll and not just on the field but your staff and players and everything else.”
If the triple-digits of last year were a fastball, this year has been a change-up after a warmer-than-usual winter and early spring.