WALLA WALLA - Baseball fans watching the World Series this weekend when the Texas Rangers host the San Francisco Giants probably won't see Walla Walla Community College sophomore Jordan Patnaude on the field at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
But they will see Patnaude's contribution to the games on every play.
Patnaude, a student in WWCC's turf management program, will be a part of the grounds crew that prepares and maintains the playing field at the park for this weekend's games. He interned with the Rangers' grounds crew from late March to the first week of September as part of his WWCC course work, and was invited to return on the team's dime for its World Series games Saturday and Sunday.
"I don't know what they're going to have me doing," Patnaude said of his duties this weekend. "But I'll be busy."
That much, Patnaude knows. During homestands for his internship, the grounds crew's day began about 8 a.m., and ended close to midnight.
This weekend during the World Series, Patnaude figures it'll be even more hectic.
"I'll probably sleep at the stadium," he said.
Patnaude said his internship with the Rangers helped greatly in his goal of working full-time in warm-weather-grass stadiums.
"The experience was amazing, they threw me in the fire right away," he said of arriving in Arlington in late March. "I started mowing right away."
Patnaude's responsibilities included mowing the outfield and maintaining the bullpens to Major League Baseball standards.
"I'd check the bullpens every morning before getting on the mower," he said. "The bullpens have to be just like the game mound."
The Rangers' grounds crew staff, consisting of three full-time employees, a seasonal worker and two interns, is much smaller than most MLB crews. Patnaude said the crew at Triple A Albuquerque, where he interned before Texas, is that size.
Most MLB crews have 12-15 members, Patnaude said.
Patnaude said the Rangers' head grounds keeper likes the smaller staff. It also so happens the staff was cut due to Texas filing for bankruptcy earlier this season.
But Patnaude's career goals were more clearly defined by his time in Arlington.
"It was absolutely amazing," he said. "I went in looking for a Major League job, but now that I've worked at the Major League level, I don't want to go back. Too many chiefs, not enough Indians.
"I looked for places (to intern) because I want to deal with warm-season grass, so Texas was obviously one of the first places to have a job posting for that," Patnaude said. "The experience was amazing. I didn't even know what Bermuda grass looked like (when he started his internship). And now, I really think I could manage a baseball field with Bermuda grass. They taught me that well.
"I wouldn't take anything back."
Patnaude didn't have much trouble with loyalty to the Rangers while interning in Arlington. His favorite team, the Minnesota Twins, only visited Rangers Ballpark once while he was there.
"I'm a big Minnesota Twins fan," Patnaude said. "But I'll root for the Rangers with the Twins out (of the playoffs)."
The Twins' visit also coincided with the visit of WWCC's turf management program coordinator Bill Griffth, who visits as many interns as possible.
"Jordan did extremely well in his internship," Griffith said. "He's held in high regard. He's got a good future."
It also so happens that the former grounds crew boss in Albuquerque when Patnaude interned there is now an assistant with the Twins, which might conflict with Patnaude's feelings about not returning to the big leagues.
"I have a huge ‘in' there," he said.
But Patnaude really sees himself heading for spring-training-type venues, places like Florida, Arizona or Southern California. He'll begin applying for jobs after the first of the year, as he completes his coursework at WWCC in March.
"I really want to work warm-season grass, where they play baseball all-year round," he said.
This weekend, he'll focus his attention on once again keeping Rangers Ballpark in Arlington in tip-top shape on the biggest stage in baseball.
"I want to see some really good baseball," Patnaude said. "But I'm going to be busy."