Mangan the man behind Turner Field's beauty
Field director embarking on 21st season with Braves
When Braves fans arrive for Friday night's home opener against the Phillies, they'll see the products of the offseason labor provided by field director Ed Mangan and his staff, who spent countless hours attempting to provide a picturesque scene to be appreciated by both fans and players.
This will be Mangan's 21st season with the Braves, and those within the organization have come to appreciate his tireless work ethic and desire to make Turner Field a thing of beauty through the entirety of a long baseball season.
"I push it every day," Mangan said. "I want the best field out there every day, no matter whether it's Opening Day or the last day of the regular season. As far as sitting back, you can't do that with the turf. It doesn't know weekends or Opening Day or closing day.
"It's a management process every day, and you're kind of a physician always on it. It's a living, breathing entity. You just have to be careful all of the time, and throughout the season, it's on your mind."
Mangan worked for noted turf consultant George Toma and went to Atlanta when John Schuerholz left the Royals to become the Braves' general manager after the 1990 season.
Even after the season concludes, Mangan and his staff continue the maintenance necessary to ensure healthy turf and a smooth playing surface by the time Opening Day arrives the following year.
Offseason activities include testing the turf with chemicals and using laser graders to determine which areas of the field were affected by normal erosion or expected wear and tear.
By the time the final week of February arrives, Mangan and his staff are spending seven days a week at Turner Field. The most intensive offseason work is aimed toward the infield, which doesn't get as much sun as the outfield during the cold winter months.
"The outfield is a little easier, because it stays," Mangan said.
Because of low temperatures and regular rainfall in January, Mangan and his crew usually spend that month taking care of some of the equipment they use throughout the season. Though it's not necessarily a shut-down month, it gives Mangan a chance to continue as the leader of the ground crews assigned to work the Super Bowl every year.
Mangan has spent the past 10 years as the NFL's field director for the Super Bowl. Every year presents new challenges, but few will prove as daunting as those he encountered a few months ago, when Dallas was hit with a snowstorm and ice storm just days before the Super Bowl.
Mangan and his crew were able to make arrangements to prepare and maintain the turf at the indoor practice facilities the Steelers and Packers were forced to use. At the same time, they placed logos and addressed the many other turf preparations made at Cowboys Stadium before the Super Bowl.
"It's a challenge and a thrill," he said. "There are a lot of different stadiums, and every stadium has its own cross to bear. You fight different battles all of the time."
Those behind-the-scenes battles will allow fans to see a picturesque scene on Friday night, when Turner Field officially opens its doors for a new season.
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.