The City Magazine Since 1975

Field of Dreams

Field of Dreams
April 2019

Kevin Coyne keeps the grounds green at The Joe

Kevin Coyne worked for the Minnesota Twins before starting at The Joe.

Rake in hand, Kevin Coyne smiles from beneath his ball cap as the late afternoon sun blazes over the nearby Ashley River. If Webster’s dictionary carried images, Coyne’s photo would appear alongside the entry for “easygoing.” This mild-mannered Midwesterner has a hint of twinkle in his eye, and perhaps that’s because he’s recently landed his dream job—head groundskeeper for the Charleston RiverDogs at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park. We caught up with the new Holy City resident, who spent four seasons on the Minnesota Twins’ field crew and two years with the San Antonio Missions.

CM: This is your first time as a head groundskeeper, and you’re following in the footsteps of Mike Williams, who had this role for 12 years. Any pressure?
Oh, for sure. Those are pretty big shoes to fill. Mike not only won national awards for the ballpark, he was a one-man show, keeping the turf and the field in great shape pretty much on his own. And, with the way the team runs promotions and all the goofy, fun stuff they do, so many people know this park and love it. So I’ve had to change my mindset and think about this job in the context of the city that I’m in.

CM: You’ve worked in turf management since high school and got your degree in it as well. What keeps you enthused about this work?
It’s that satisfaction you get just before the first pitch is thrown. You can go up in the stands and look down at a pristine field and know you had a lot to do with making it look that good. Even on the days that I work 14 hours, that feeling never gets old.

CM: What specific challenges are there to keeping The Joe looking good?
It’s humid here, and it rains regularly in the summer, so I have to be careful about managing fungus in the turf and keeping the moisture content in the clay at the right level. Essentially, I’ll be doing things like applying fungicide and hauling out the infield tarp more regularly than I did in Minnesota or Texas.

CM: You just moved here from Minneapolis. What are the best and worst things about being in Charleston as opposed to there?
I love the easy access to fresh seafood here. I can’t get enough of that. But I do miss ice hockey. I’m a huge U. of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs fan, and of course the Minnesota Wild (of the NHL) as well.

Lives: In a West Ashley bachelor pad
Big league team: “Having grown up in Minnesota, I’m a lifelong Twins fan.”
Outside of work: “I love to golf, though I don’t get much of a chance to except in the off season.”
Fridge essentials: Beer, wine, “and a bunch of stuff to throw on the grill,” he says. “I’m hoping I can bring my portable grill to the ballpark to make lunch at work.”