Today: The Strange Ascension of George Toma into Even an Stranger Hall of Fame

Before this column spirals out of control. allow me to say a few kind words about George Toma...

Without question the longtime Kansas City A’s, Chiefs and Royals groundskeeper was the gold standard among groundskeepers in Major League Baseball and the National Football League. The 80-something Toma started as groundskeeper for major league baseball in Kansas City in 1957, when the Athletics were playing at Municipal Stadium at 22nd Street and Brooklyn Avenue.

Toma’s also renown for his decades of duty tending to Super Bowl fields and sporting events worldwide.

So it comes as little surprise that in a sports short in today’s Star we learn he’s been inducted into the Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame.

Hold it right there…

The Major League Baseball Groundskeeper Hall of Fame – who’s ever heard of that?

"I tell ya, I’ve never heard of it before," says MLB communications head Mike Teevan. "I don’t think officially it’s a part of Major League Baseball."

Naturally, the Star skipped over that tiny detail, leaving to reader’s imagination whether such a stately pleasure dome actually exists, housing marble busts and bronze statues of grass growers past and present astride lawnmowers from days gone by.

And frankly, outside of Toma, who really ever heard of sod sultans such as deceased Milwaukee Brewers groundskeeper Gary VandenBerg, for whom Toma’s trophy was named?

Incidentally VanderBerg, who died in October at age 59, only started with the Brewers in 1981, 24 years into Toma’s career in KC. Aside from being "beloved" in Milwaukee and winning several awards, VandenBerg’s bio pales in comparison to Toma’s.

After reading VandenBerg’s eulogies, it’s clear the award should bear Toma’s name if anyone’s.

So yes, it’s most excellent that Toma was awarded this distinction. But it should also have been noted in the reporting that prior to his selection, there was no groundskeeper hall of fame and that he and the dude who were installed this week are the one and only people in this yet brand new, if imaginary HOF.

And to be fair, that Toma was selected by a small, self-appointed committee of five baseball execs, two of whom are members of the Kansas City Royals organization.

It’s also worth noting that outside of players, managers, baseball executives and umpires, there are no inductees in the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. That according to NBHOF communications director Craig Muder.

"There are awards winner," Muder says. "But they are not inductees."

None of whom are groundskeeper, btw.

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14 Responses to Today: The Strange Ascension of George Toma into Even an Stranger Hall of Fame

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    Kind of like Gov Casey of PA
    Got a heart/lung transplant because he was first on the list, which he started.

    Lots of dubious halls and awards. This one will be replaced with another even more self-serving before too long.

    George is the turf king, hands down, no one in the same game with him.

    Right up there with The Best of The Pitch winners…

  2. Hearne Christopher says:

    Funny

  3. chuck says:

    George musta been married to Alice B. Toklas
    This guy was a LANDSCAPER and lived in Leawood!

    Wake up people!!! Smell the Columbian!

    I’m sure he was an expert in Royal Rasta Weed, but you don’t don’t pull down a phone number riding a lawnmower.

    It had to be Thai Sticks with Toma to afford that life style. George is flyin all over the US with bags of “seeds” so he can get those playing surfaces just right.

    Yeah, sure… The award shoulda been a golden Hookah. The man was a landscaper.

    I think he does love sports though.

    George’s favorite athlete is Fuma D’Angola.

  4. smartman says:

    High on Grass
    Here’s the Toma “secret”. Soak your seed in water until it germinates. Drain the water off the seed and mix it with Milorganite until it becomes dry.

    Mow your lawn down as low as possible and dethatch.

    Core aerate and/or verticut the lawn. Spread the seed and Milorganite mixture evenly across your lawn using a commercial quality spreader. The seed will root deep in the lawn and since it is already germinated you will water it less It will be established much quicker than just throwing down seed and it will be thicker and more lush.

  5. Orphan of the Road says:

    Astro Turf
    He was turf guy too for Super Bowls. Eagles tried to hire him after Irvin blew out a knee on a seam.

    Friends saw a soccer field he built in Dubai when they were there for the MOTOGP. Said it was beautiful, and the only green thing in sight.

    Who do you think they patterned Carl in Caddyshack after?

  6. Lance the Intern says:

    They named the award….
    after Gary VandenBerg?? Good googly moogly.

  7. Ople says:

    weird things
    Kind of like Stanford’s being named the #2 comedy club in the US by an organization that does not exist.

  8. Super Dave says:

    George Knows Grass
    Well I don’t care what anyone says George knows how to make grass look good and thats that.

    But then when you have more or less an unlimited budget to make it look good it sure helps.

  9. expat says:

    making stuff up
    My great grandfather was a groundskeeper at Ewing Kauffman’s mansion back in the day. He’s been inducted to the Major League Baseball Owner’s Mansion’s Groundskeeper Hall of Fame, which I invented just now.

  10. Jayhawk Fan says:

    beings you never give us a chance to say it
    I would just like to take this opportunity, as I peruse KCC and watch my Kansas Jayhawks, THE MIGHTY KANSAS JAYHAWK BASKETBALL TEAM, play Texas Tech tonight, I would just like to comment how MY KANSAS JAYHAWKS RULE!!!!! This was the year everyone said you guys cant do it, this was year we lost too many players, this was the year the recruits not being able to play would hurt us, this was the year we would falter. And sure enough we had 3 early losses, to the likes of Duke and Kenfucky, but since this team has gotten it s act together and taken it on the road. HOLY COW BATMAN!!!! KU LOOKS AS GOOD AS EVER!!!!!

    YEAH!!!!!

    ROCK CHALK JAYHAWAK GO KU!!!!!

    I will now allow you all to get back to discussing how much you all hate George Toma, and how you all think he deserves nothing, Me personally?? I always like good ole George, he was awesome, but if you wanna hate on him, you feel free. but maybe you should ponder what your mother would think of you speaking ill of good ole George.

  11. TIAD says:

    Toma’s Secret?
    Treat the lawn with ground-up crawdads.

  12. paulwilsonkc says:

    TIAD, thats the secret to good humor!!
    Pull facts from an pervious story and reuse them in another one! Its that kind of funny stuff that makes me spend too much time on here when I need to be writing proposals or business plans! Well played.

  13. Dave says:

    As long as we’re talking about groundskeepers …
    … Did you ever hear about this one?

    CORRECTIONS
    The Kansas City Star
    Wrong identification
    The landscaper for a downtown condominium project was incorrectly identified in Hearne Christopher

  14. wes says:

    george will be the first to tell you everything he did. good for him i’m sure it’s been hard to get those plastic fields ready. didnt kc have astro turf?

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