Hawkeye Student Lands Internship at World Series
posted on Friday, November 22, 2019 in
There were more than 43,000 people in Houston’s Minute Maid Park during game seven of the 2019 World Series, but none of them experienced it like Brenden Matthias.
A student in the Landscape and Turf Management program at Hawkeye Community College, he spent the game on the sidelines as the only intern on the Houston Astros grounds crew. For a lifelong baseball fan like Matthias, it was a dream come true.
“We were the only people in the world working game seven of the World Series,” Matthias said. “During the regular season you could say you’re one of 30-40 guys to patch a mound, but you were the only guy during that time.”
Matthias played baseball for Iowa Central after graduating from Denver High School in 2014. His career was cut short by injury, and after a year studying political science at Wartburg College it didn’t feel like the right fit. That’s when a former teammate suggested looking into turf management. He enrolled at Hawkeye soon after.
That same friend alerted him to the internship opportunity. Within a week, he was on the phone with the Houston Astros groundskeeper.
Matthias was the only grounds crew intern at Minute Maid Park from January to July 2019, part of a seven-person full-time staff. His instructors at Hawkeye connected him with online classes, which combined with internship credits to keep him on track for graduation. His time in Houston showed him a new side of the turf management field – one that took the idea of perfection to a new level.
“When you look at the field it’s just immaculately smooth,” he said. “When you walk from the infield grass onto the infield dirt, if you close your eyes you’re not supposed to feel a change in elevation below your feet. It’s fun to see how they do things at the next level.”
He was responsible for edges before every game, finding and correcting inconsistencies that could cause a ball to take a “bad hop.” It was also important for player safety.
“That’s something people don’t think about,” Matthias said. “There might be an area that’s not in the field of play that’s not going to change the game with a bad bounce, but a player could fall coming back to the dugout.”
The staff was so impressed with Matthias, they said he was welcome to come back for the post-season. When the Astros made the World Series, he bought his plane ticket to Houston.
The World Series brought a whole new level of expectation on the grounds grew, from navigating around national media to preparing the field for global exposure. This included burying microphones under home plate and the pitcher’s mound, and attaching them to every base. The experience made him see his favorite sport in a new way.
“You watch how the players move and how they impact the surface,” he said. “The end goal is seeing players using the field and knowing I helped make that field the best it can be.”
Matthias says his experiences, both at Hawkeye and with the Astros, made him confident he’s on the right career path. When he graduates this spring, he hopes to find work in turf management for a baseball or football field and continue doing what he loves.
“Every day I got to wake up and go to work on a baseball field,” he said. “It didn’t feel stressful by any means, but we knew we had a standard for our field to live up to. It was just a blast.”
- Houston Astros
- Landscape and Turf Management
- World Series