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Greening of the Fields


By Daniel Gil

Well, the mercury has been soaring into regions I thought forbidden until after spring break, and--thanks to the hockey team--it may not be too soon to start thinking about spring sports.

I found myself in the shadows of the football stadium yesterday afternoon. I can't explain why I was there. I just walked out of Harvard Hall and kept walking down Boylston Street.

Maybe it was the afternoon sun reflecting off the crane hovering over Watson Rink. Or it could have been the stench wafting off the melting river.

But somehow I found myself on a "Spring Pilgrimage to Soldiers Field."

The first thing one notices is that the tarnished orange girders left behind on that Harvard-Yale Saturday in November have become a brick and concrete box imposing on the soggy baseball outfield.

Most of the snow is gone except for a pile by the backstop. The grass is a curious patchwork of light shades of brown and green. Somehow one can't imagine players in clean white uniforms charging out onto the green to start their seasons in just a month.

That is where Bernard K. Keohan of Building and Grounds comes in. He has the task of getting the fields into shape every spring. He's not worried.

"If we get an early spring," Keohan says, "the grass will be green." But green or brown, "the playing surface will be good," he says.

Keohan surveys his domain and predicts confidently that the field hockey area will be in top condition and that the stadium track will be ready by the first week of April.

Yet the baseball diamond, its infield covered with gravel and stone dust, is not Koehan's major concern.

The 14 University clay courts are "our biggest problem in the Spring," he says. He adds that "lacrosse will have to live with what soccer has left them."

Does Koehan have any tricks or gardening secrets for all those green thumbs who read the sports page? "A whole bag of them," he jokes, and goes on to suggest that they learn by experience.

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