Baseball season arrived at Richmond County’s high schools and middle schools last week as area teams opened their 2012 schedules. It also marked an increased workload for the ultimate behind-the-scenes team player.
Paul Stampley, a field marker for the Richmond County school system, has the duty of preparing the fields every time a high school or middle school team has a home game. His duties include chalking the foul lines, batters’ boxes, coaches’ boxes and on-deck circles. He also prepares the infield dirt by dragging it.
“My job never quits this time of year,” the 58-year-old said. “When you’ve been doing it for 20-something years, you can do it in your sleep. I don’t even need to use string for the coaching boxes.”
Stampley does get help on some of his busiest days, which he said can include preparing up to 10 baseball fields on Fridays. But he said often it’s just him, his four-wheeled chalk dispenser, at least 300 feet of string and several large bags of chalk.
“On Fridays I end up looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy,” he said. “I get chalk all over me.”
Stampley said it takes up to an hour to properly prepare a field. He covers all of the county’s middle schools and most of the high schools, though some programs, including Westside, elect to use coaches, parents or volunteers to prep their fields.
“I still have to get the equipment to them,” Stampley said last week while working on the left field foul line at Richmond Academy. “I just got the call. I have to take 12 bags of chalk to Westside after this.”
Stampley gets a paycheck for his work but said he considers his efforts part of being a fan. Though he graduated from Butler High School in 1972, he said one of his favorite diamonds is the field at Richmond Academy, which is home to one of the richest baseball traditions in the area.
He also enjoys being close to the sport and its next generation of ball players.
“It’s hard work, but I enjoy working with the kids,” he said. “They’re our future, and this gives me the chance to influence a lot of them and keep them working at something that’s important.”