68ºF

Salem native has become MLB 'Field Guru'

Murray Cook
Murray Cook (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

SALEM (WSLS 10 SPORTS) - Murray Cook grew up right outside the walls of Kiwanis Field in Salem. He says he remembers walking home from school each day, collecting baseballs.

"Every time foul balls and home runs went over the fence, I'd snag them and bring them up here and sell them for 25 cents. So I was making money," said Cook.

"I was making too much so he brought me in the park to get the balls and that's when I started working in the ballpark."

That experience planted a seed that grew into a passion for maintaining baseball fields. Cook was hired as the head groundskeeper at the age of 15 for the then Salem Pirates. From then on he was much like a minor league player, working his way to the top.

"I think where things changed is when I moved down to Florida in 1988-89 and took care of the spring training complex for the Braves and the Expos", explained Cook.

Cook soon became the ballpark and field consultant for the MLB helping in projects worldwide from the 2008 Beijing Olympics, to the Mexico City series, the Cuba game played in March and most recently the Fort Bragg game.

"When it was announced officially March 3rd, 120 days later we had a ballpark. A 12,500 seat ballpark, we built the whole facility in four months", said Cook.

Despite all his individual success throughout the years Cook also places emphasis on educating others and giving back to the community.

He holds clinics educating ballpark maintenance, which has benefited Trent Terry the Site Supervisor at Kiwanis Field.

"You take pride in your work everyday to hopefully one day make it to some type of level he's been at", said Terry.

Murray Cook, sharing a lifetime of experience with others so they too can have a field of dreams.


About the Author: