For Geneseo alumni Kyle Brudos, baseball has always been a part of his life, and he has turned it into a career.
Brudos, a 2004 J.D. Darnall High School graduate, is the director of stadium operations and head groundskeeper for the Quad City River?Bandits Baseball Club.
“I have actually known for a long time this is what I wanted to do,” he said. “I worked with (brother) Erik (Brudos) at Bollen?Field when I was 12 years old and I got interested then. I then worked at Bollen Field my senior year of high school until my sophomore year of college. I knew this is what I wanted to do.”
Prior to coming to the Bandits, Brudos was a pitcher for the University of Wisconsin-Platteville baseball team where he graduated in December 2008 with a degree in ornamental horticulture.
Brudos started with the Bandits in 2009 as an intern and was promoted to assistant groundskeeper after his first season with the club. He was promoted to his current post in 2010.
“A lot of this job is learned by trial and error,” he said.?“My major taught me the science of everything, but it was more broad and focused on landscaping.”
Brudos said what he enjoys about the job is he gets to watch baseball — 100 games a year. He also has the opportunity to see major leaguers play before they become major leaguers.
“It was a way for me to stay in the game of baseball,” he said. “Knowing the game you understand it a little more and it helps me with my job.”
The No. 1 priority for Brudos is the field at Modern Woodmen Park, even when the team is not at home.
When the team is at home, Brudos and his crew are busy making sure the field is in perfect condition, which all starts the day before a homestand with everything from mowing to setting the sprinklers.
On a game day, Brudos and his staff have a quick turn around to get the field game ready, after batting practice ends, which is an hour before game time. Once the game starts, Brudos helps with some of the promotional on field activities, drags the infield halfway through the game, watches the radar for rain and monitors the field to see if there are any changes that need to be made.
“I definitely enjoy the groundskeeping end of my job more,” he said. “I am in charge of taking care of the entire field and what it looks like. You never know when it is going to be someone’s first time at your ballpark, and you always want to make sure it looks its best.
“Being a college pitcher, I try to get the mound to the way I would like, but I am always asking the players what they like.”
Page 2 of 2 - The toughest part of the job for Brudos are the hours, which includes days, nights, weekends and even holidays.
“The hours are the toughest part, but I knew that coming in,” he said. “I try to fight through and do what I have to do and eventually there will be a break. I work about 24-hours a day.”
Another tough part of his job is contending with Mother Nature.
“We won’t tarp the field until 24 hours before a game depending on the forecast,” said Brudos. “I try to monitor the rain, set two alarms at night and we do come in at night if it is going to rain. We can tarp the field in 3 minutes.”
Despite the long hours, Brudos says what he enjoys most is just getting to watch baseball.
“It is a weird profession, but I know I am one of the few that run a professional baseball field,” he said.
One of the highlights of his time with the Bandits was this past summer when the Bandits hosted the league’s All-Star Game. The groundskeeping crew created special designs in the field for the occasion.
“The commissioner of the league was there and made a comment on how nice the field looked. That really sparked me up,” said Brudos. “The designs on the field are a result of a lot of offseason thinking.?I know what the mowers can do so it is just thinking of the designs. The All-Star logo took months of thinking, but others were just spur of the moment.”
Brudos realizes that there are some things in his position that he can’t control and he says he has been able to stay even keeled when something unexpected happens.
“I just go with the flow and trust what I have learned will allow me to know the decision I need to make,” he said.
“I am definitely still learning and have a ton to learn. I try to gather information from others in the industry.”
During the season, Brudos leaves a lot of his role as director of stadium operations to two members of his staff, but he continues to work with the business side of the operations. Once the season is over, Brudos then takes on more of his stadium operations responsibilities from painting to general stadium maintenance.
“I am really enjoying the game I grew up with and I knew I wanted to be in baseball,” Brudos said. “However halfway through college I started gearing more toward landscaping, but when this opportunity arose I just went with it.”