Class A Chiefs have big league groundskeeper

By WEEK Producer

April 3, 2013 Updated Apr 3, 2013 at 10:09 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- His job is about as exciting as watching grass grow. Mike Reno just wishes it would already.

"The grass has trouble growing in this temperature but it'll start growing eventually," said the Peoria Chiefs head groundskeeper. "I think its supposed to heat up here at the end of the week and get back to normal."

While Reno takes care of the field for Class-A Chiefs, he carries big league his credentials.

Mike used to help maintain the playing fields of the Arizona Cardinals, Washington Redskins and Miami Dolphins of the National Football League and baseball's Miami Marlins.

He's so highly regarded that he was recruited to work the Super Bowl in February in New Orleans, where he was responsible for painting one of the endzones and caring for the practice fields.

The most valuable advice he's gotten came from the fertile mind of one of the best.

"Keep feet off the grass as much as possible," Reno said. "George Toma, one of the famous older groundskeepers, you've probably heard of him,he says grass is killed by the feet and grown by the inches."

This is Reno's third year with the Chiefs. He says he'd probably still be in Miami but his wife, who works for Caterpillar, was transferred here. That's ok with him, he's a midwestern boy anyway.

Mike grew up in suburban St. Louis, so he knows how hard the summers here can be on a lawn. And his reputation has grown inside the Chiefs organization.

"One of our guys moved into a house that was just dirt in the backyard and he taught him and showed him how to till it up," explained Nathan Baliva, the Chiefs director of baseball operations and media relations. "They borrowed the tiller and got that all set. He definitely helped people on staff to take care of their lawns at home."

Reno says maintaining the Chiefs' field is just like working in the big leagues, with one exception.

"A little more elbow grease," Reno joked.