Steve Horne started 25 years ago, or eons ago as he likes to say, doing the groundwork for major league baseball teams such as the Chicago White Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals making sure the grass is green and the dirt is smooth.
Eventually he made his way to the New York Yankees organization, where he now is the head groundskeeper at PNC Field in Moosic for their minor league team the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.
“I’ve been very fortunate to work with teams who care about their facilities and their fields,” said Horne. “I’ve trained many young men who have gone on to become head groundskeepers themselves, so it’s really something that’s a part of me that I grew up doing.”
As much as Horne loves his job working on major league and minor league fields, he gets more joy out of working on community baseball fields, because it hits him a little closer to home.
“I have kids that are 12 and 13 years old,” said Horne. “In today’s world it’s an electronic age and everyone wants to sit in and exercise their thumbs. I grew up in an age where you were sent outside in the summer time, and you went out and played baseball, softball, soccer or football, so that’s how I got into this.”
Horne loves doing anything he can to help give kids a good field to play on, so that they can get exercise while having fun with their friends and making memories over a game of baseball.
“I enjoyed it then and I enjoy it now,” said Horne. “To be able to get the younger generation outside, off the couch, that’s big for me because I send my kids outside and I want them to have a facility, or a field, like this to come out and play on that’s safe. That’s important to me.”
On Thursday, May 29, Horne continued to help renovate local fields as he, along with members of the RailRiders organization, members of the Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs and local townspeople all came together to participate in the Railriders’ third “Adopt-a-Field” program by working on the Exeter Lions Little League field.
RailRiders general manager Rob Craine explained that fields are selected by submitting photos through a contest on the RailRiders’ website in which Little League representatives describe what exactly needs to be renovated. They select four fields to work on and do so by selecting the four field photos that recieve the most votes.
“This is one of our biggest things,” said Craine. “We want to go out and be a part of our community and be engaged with our community, and what better way to go out and build little league fields? Steve Horne and Rob Galdiari are our head groundskeeper and assistant groundskeeper and this is like their baby; this is one of their most pride projects. Our staff, with folks from the Mohegan Sun, are helping out and we’re having a ball. This is very important to us, and it’s definitely an annual thing.”
The Exeter Lions Little League field was one of the four selected this year along with the Abington Heights high school baseball field, the Bear Creek Little League field and the Jenkins Township softball field, which will be renovated at the end of June.
Being in its third year, Craine said the feedback the Railriders organization gets for their help is overwhelming and that each year has been a blessing to help out the kids and their communities.
“It’s a blast,” said Craine. “When you come back and the kids are playing on it at night and their like ‘Wow!’ It’s like someone bulldozed their Little League field and brought a whole new one in, so you’ll see their eyes light light up. That part is the coolest part in the world.”
Vice-president of the Exeter Lions Little League John Morgan is excited that the Exeter field was chosen by the public to be renovated, and he can’t wait for the kids to play on it.
“We’re quite ecstatic,” said Morgan. “We’re very thankful for the all the people that voted and all the people in the league. Everybody always has a dream of playing on a big league field and now our kids are gonna have the opportunity to play on a field that was done over by a professional so we’re quite excited.”
Morgan believes the renovation of the field will not only benefit the Little League, but the community as a whole.
“It’s a great asset to the community,” said Morgan. “Everyone’s going to be envoious of our field and the kids will be excited.”