I saw a heartwarming story on the news this week about a well-deserved honor that I want to share. George Toma will be inducted into the Royals Hall of Fame as the 25th member on Aug. 31.
Never heard of George, a.k.a. the “Nitty Gritty Dirt Man”? That’s because he was the groundskeeper. But no ordinary groundskeeper…he worked for the Royals for a large part of his life. In 1957 he accepted the job of head groundskeeper for the Kansas City Athletics, over an offer to work for the Denver Bears, and never left. Team names changed, but George’s job didn’t. George also worked for the Chiefs, providing grounds keeping for them and the Royals until his retirement in 1997. Now that’s loyalty!
What’s also amazing is his humble and grateful attitude. “You can’t talk, you get tears in your eyes. It’s unexpected,” Toma said. “I never thought I’d be in the NFL Hall of Fame or the Groundkeepers Hall of Fame or the Royals Hall of Fame because I’m just a nitty, gritty dirt man, the lowest in the organization.”
For me, the best part of this story is not what he did, but how he did it. Sure he was ‘just a groundskeeper’, but it’s a very important job and he took it seriously, with safety always in mind. “You have to give the players a good playing field. My theory is the cheapest insurance for an athlete is a good, safe playing field from preschool to the Major Leagues, to the professional baseball.”
He also believed in what he did as a benefit to the viewers, “You have to give the people in the stands and the people on TV a field of beauty.” (Quotes taken from story by Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com, link below.)
The Good News for today is that hard work, loyalty and dedication pay off. The other Good News is that every job, no matter how humble, can be great…it all depends on how you look at it. Congrats to George and thanks to all those who work hard to make our stadiums and Kansas City beautiful.
Thanks to sources:
Dick Kaegel and Vinnie Duber /MLB.com
Jill Seib/ Kansas City Royals