Feature

The man known as ‘the Sodfather’

Roger Bossard, a third-generation groundskeeper, is a legend in his field, says Mike Thomas in Smithsonian. Since 1983, Bossard has overseen the care and maintenance of the Chicago White Sox’s ballparks. But that’s just for starters. He’s also designed th

Roger Bossard, a third-generation groundskeeper, is a legend in his field, says Mike Thomas in Smithsonian. Since 1983, Bossard has overseen the care and maintenance of the Chicago White Sox’s ballparks. But that’s just for starters. He’s also designed the fields and irrigation systems for 10 of the last 16 major-league grounds to be built or refurbished; five of the last seven World Series championship teams played on his state-of-the-art surfaces. Known in the sports world as “the Sodfather,” Bossard is part of a groundskeeping dynasty. His grandfather worked the grounds at Municipal Stadium for the Cleveland Indians for 25 years, and his father was the White Sox’s youngest-ever groundskeeper. He remembers his initiation into the fold. He was 14, he said, and his father and grandfather were talking “about players, different teams, different soils, different grasses, different fertilizers.” Suddenly, his father asked him, “Can you come down Sunday, the team’s out of town, and give me a hand?” Soon he knew what he wanted to do when he grew up. Now 59, Bossard wonders whether his 10-year-old son, Brandon, will continue the family tradition. “This past year I take him out [to the ballpark] and we play catch. I hit him fly balls and then I do some of the work I need to do. And doggone if he doesn’t grab the hose. It almost brought a tear to my eye.”

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