April 4, 2001

Norman, Okla. - The University of Oklahoma baseball program was awarded the top honor in the collegiate division of the Beam Clay Baseball Diamond of the Year Award. The award, sponsored by Beam Clay and Baseball America, recognizes the best playing surfaces in three levels of baseball: professional, college and schools, municipalities and parks. The honor marks the second year in a row that OU's L. Dale Mitchell Park has placed as one of the best college baseball fields in the nation after finishing second in the competition last year.

"The award is a great honor for the grounds crew and for the team to play on such a quality field," expressed OU's Athletic Turf Manager Kenny Gajewski, who oversees the maintenance of all Sooner athletic fields. Gajewski is assisted at L. Dale Mitchell Park by one full-time assistant and three part-time students.

"There is a lot of hard work and pride that goes into maintaining this field. The grounds crew is usually the first to arrive at the field in the mornings to work the dirt and make sure the grass surface plays well while battling the wind and heat of Oklahoma," said Gajewski.

Oklahoma took first place honors in the competition in 1994, the last time OU was able to enter the contest prior to last season. Programs can enter the competition only once every five years after taking first place honors.

This is the 15th year that the award has been presented. Four major league head groundskeepers served as the judges in this year's competition.