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Hampton/Shaler

Hampton groundskeeper an unsung hero who keeps athletic program rolling

| Wednesday, July 4, 2018, 8:53 p.m.
Joe Bayer is dedicated to keeping the playing fields and outdoor spaces at Hampton Township School District in tip-top condition.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Joe Bayer is dedicated to keeping the playing fields and outdoor spaces at Hampton Township School District in tip-top condition.
Joe Bayer takes pride in keeping Hampton playing fields safe, playable and aesthetically pleasing.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Joe Bayer takes pride in keeping Hampton playing fields safe, playable and aesthetically pleasing.
Joe Bayer has been with Hampton Township School District for nearly a decade.
Louis Raggiunti | For the Tribune-Review
Joe Bayer has been with Hampton Township School District for nearly a decade.

It takes work to keep the athletic grounds at Hampton Township School District looking good, and much of that can be attributed to Joe Bayer, the main groundskeeper at the district.

He's the one that is responsible for maintaining that field and other outdoor areas to ensure these places are up to par.

Bayer has been working at the district for almost a decade now and Richard Farino, building and grounds supervisor at the district, had no problem answering what makes Bayer valuable.

“Dedication, loyalty. And he treats our grounds like his own front yard,” said Farino.

Bayer, who lives in Bradford Woods, works year round taking care of district grounds.

Tips for good athletic maintenance of athletic fields includes three things, he said.

The fields need to be safe, have “playability” and be aesthetically pleasing.

“There's always something to do,” said Bayer.

The changing dynamics of the weather or season is a factor of what he has to do for the day, especially if it's snow or rain.

Currently, he's working to ensure the various summer camps have good grounds on which to practice, he said. Farino said they may enlist help from others in the district to help Bayer with maintenance when necessary, but it's mostly Bayer.

William Cardone, HTSD athletic director, said Bayer gets called a few friendly names occasionally.

“Joe is well known with some nicknames such as Joe Dirt or Joe Fridley Field as he spends most of his time at the baseball fields or Fridley,” said Cardone.

Bayer has a bachelor's degree in outdoor education from Pennsylvania State University and before coming to Hampton was a recreation director for a healthcare facility. He enjoys working here, saying the district provides a great working environment.

“People from the board and administration know you by their first name so it makes for an easy working relationship,” he said.

Farino and Cardone agree.

“Joe is such a big asset to the athletic program at Hampton and everything he does for our student athletes and coaches. Hampton has been able to have quality facilities in the WPIAL and PIAA because of the attention to detail Joe provides,” said Cardone.

Bayer enjoys the interaction with staff and students, adding the students and athletes treat the facilities pretty well.

“I find if you give them a very good facility they respect it and take care of it,” said Bayer, who is married to his wife, Susan, and has two grown daughters, Emily and Halley.

Sporting events anywhere will have its share or garbage to pick up, but he was quite impressed by June's graduation ceremonies at Fridley Field. He estimated between 2,800 to 3,000 people attended and “I probably picked up just about a half a bag of trash.”

He comes to work from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and said his goal is to meet the needs of all the differing requests throughout the district. But he loves being outdoors, even when he maintained fields in the cold spring this year when the lacrosse team played in the snow.

For Bayer, almost everyday is a good day to be outdoors.

Not surprisingly, in his spare time, he likes to garden at home and is a beekeeper. This year marks the first time he harvested the honey from the hives and he's proud to say they garnered 60 pounds of honey.

Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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