Called “The Sodfather” by fans, beloved Chicago White Sox Head Groundskeeper Roger Bossard grew up spraying down infields with his dad, eventually changing the game with his own innovative approach. This profile is just one of many featured exclusively online and on Faces of Chicago on Facebook Watch.
Here’s Bossard’s story — in his own words:
I’m one of those people that – it’s gotta be genetic, I wake up in the morning and I’m ready to go. I don’t need any coffee, or Coca-cola or Pepsi or anything.
On a day game I’m usually here (at Guaranteed Rate Field) by about seven o’clock, it’s probably a 12-hour day. It’s not just a matter of coming out and saying to somebody well, you know, “let’s cut grass and water the infield dirt.” It’s anything but that.
The most important part of the field is the infield clay – that’s where 70 percent of the action is taken. Over a period of the day you might water three times maybe five, depending on the weather. If it’s humid you don’t water it as much. If it’s windy you have to water it more, all these things come into play and you have to try and be perfect. You don’t achieve it, but just try.
You work for the players you wanna give them exactly what they want, and infielders are probably the pickiest, all they want is a consistent hop.
Hawk Harrelson, Former White Sox TV announcer
When I played back in the 60s and 70s, some of the Major League fields were atrocious. Like Detroit, they had clumps all over the infield like this and that’s why you saw so many bad hops. There’s no bad hops out here. You can make mistakes, but it’s not gonna be because of the field.
Roger Bossard, Head Groundskeeper, Chicago White Sox
Dad was the groundkeeper here for 43 years. Before him, my grandfather was head groundkeeper in Cleveland for 46 years. When I was nine, 10 years old, we’d get together for Christmas, with the family and I can remember my mom and my aunts didn’t like it, but all my uncles and grandpa and my dad, all they talked about was dirt and soils and players and plants and stuff like that, warning track materials.
I started here in 67, and barring my time overseas in the service, in my 52nd year I think I’m on six or maybe seven days that I’ve missed.
The nozzle I use is probably over 75 years old, my dad had used it here in the 50s, and the thing is very special to me. It has a perfect spray when I’m doing the infield dirt.
Water throughout the years has just completely taken my finger print off my one finger. So if the police ever hauled me in and they wanted to see my finger prints, they actually wouldn’t see it on there.
I like the challenge. Groundkeepers are 10th man on the field. You gotta work with the players and you have to try to be perfect, but I gotta be quite frank with you, I enjoy every minute of it.
Note: this interview was edited for content