Over the years, Greater Nevada Field has turned into Leah Withrow’s home.
Plenty of people refer to their offices as a second home, but for Withrow it’s the care and precision to detail that makes her office special. It’s that same execution and confidence in her abilities that earned the Gardnerville native a promotion into a historic spot earlier this week.
Tuesday afternoon, the Reno Aces made Withrow the only head female groundskeeper in Minor League Baseball.
“It’s still pretty surreal right now. I haven’t fully wrapped my head around that it’s my position now,” said Withrow. “I don’t know if I will until somebody calls me that, … head groundskeeper.”
Relishing the work
Withrow’s dedication to her craft is evident instantly.
Even though baseball isn’t in season at the moment, her three years with the Aces and working under the previous two head groundskeepers prepared Withrow for her new role.
She’s uniquely aware of the historical significance of her promotion, but wants any and all skeptics to realize, it’s her will power that has brought her to this point.
“I’ve put in a lot of literal blood, sweat and tears to this field. I’ve spent three seasons and a COVID season here,” Withrow said, who graduated from Douglas High School in 2014. “I know this field better than anyone who would have applied. It feels great that all my work was recognized.”
Describing her favorite parts of the job, especially game day, paints a picture of a seasoned professional.
However, this isn’t the first time Withrow has found herself among historical conversations.
In 2019, Withrow was the only female groundskeeper among the triple-A ranks and said she hoped to see that change, while being interview by Nevada Sports Net’s Shannon Kelly.
About 18 months later, she feels as though that ball has continued to roll.
“I think there are more women trying baseball out. There is starting to be a bigger group of us, but I think we still have a long way to go. I still think having these women out there, showing themselves working super hard is going to show other young women it’s a possibility,” Withrow said.
It’s been a venture of the last two decades as Heather Nabozny was the first to break through the glass ceiling, becoming the head groundskeeper of the Detroit Tigers in 2000, a first for women in Major League Baseball.
Groundskeepers have been in baseball since the sport’s beginnings.
So much so, that longtime MLB owner Bill Veeck, who died in the mid 1980s said, “a good groundskeeper can be as valuable as a .300 hitter.”
Expectations for upcoming season
The Reno Aces announced last week, they’re expecting to have a full season for 2021.
Though a schedule has not been released, Withrow is back in action.
Momentarily waiting out the winter weather, the North Dakota State alumna can’t wait to provide an atmosphere that she knows sports fans like herself are missing.
“There’s nothing better than that first glimpse of the green grass. You walk through those gates and you smell the popcorn and it’s that whole nostalgic ballpark feeling,” said Withrow. “I’m hoping I can have everything in shape for when we do have fans, and are playing baseball again, everyone gets that feeling that I think everyone is desperately in need of.”