CLEARWATER, FL - At a ceremony this weekend at the Sheraton Hotel in Clearwater, FL, former Reds groundskeeper Mathias C. "Matty" Schwab will receive the prestigious Gary Vanden Berg Award as the 2017 inductee into the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper's Hall of Fame.
The gathering is part of the annual meeting of the groundskeepers of MLB's 30 teams.
Mr. Schwab began tending the fields at Reds ballparks in 1894 under the guidance of his father, John. Matty took over as park superintendent for the Reds in 1903 and held the position until he retired in 1963. In addition to overseeing the installation of the field when the Reds moved into Redland (later Crosley) Field, Mr. Schwab was responsible for major innovations in field drainage systems and, inspired by their use on golf courses, pioneered the use of sprinkler systems at Major League ballparks.
Mr. Schwab was also one of baseball's preeminent designers of ballpark scoreboards, designing and building his first scoreboard at League Park in 1894 as well as multiple scoreboards at Redland/Crosley Field. Schwab-designed scoreboards also graced New York's Polo Grounds and Yankee Stadium and Brooklyn's Ebbets Field and Major League ballparks in Boston, Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
Several members of Mr. Schwab's family worked at ballparks across the Major Leagues, including his son, Matthew, who was park superintendent at Ebbets Field, the Polo Grounds and San Francisco's Candlestick Park, and grandson Mike Dolan, who succeeded Mr. Schwab as superintendent at Crosley Field.
The award is named after Gary Vanden Berg, who served as the Milwaukee Brewers' head groundskeeper for 30 years and died in 2011 following a battle with cancer.