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G-Braves' Ball gets International League award

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gwinnett Braves Sports Turf Manager, Chris Ball paints the first base line at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville prior to a Gwinnett Braves game earlier this season. Ball is in his first year with the Gwinnett Braves and is responsible for maintaining the playing surface of Coolray Field.

Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Gwinnett Braves Sports Turf Manager, Chris Ball paints the first base line at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville prior to a Gwinnett Braves game earlier this season. Ball is in his first year with the Gwinnett Braves and is responsible for maintaining the playing surface of Coolray Field.

In an announcement made Friday by the International League, Gwinnett Braves sports turf manager Chris Ball has been voted the IL Sports Turf Manager of the Year for 2013.

Ball, who just completed his second season maintaining the Coolray Field playing surface, is the first Sports Turf Manager from Gwinnett to win the award.

Since 1992, the International League has recognized a Sports Turf Manager of the Year at the conclusion of the last 22 seasons. The award was established to “recognize outstanding effort and excellence in the care and maintenance of a baseball playing surface,” according to the league’s announcement. Prior to Ball, the last Braves’ Triple-A Sports Turf Manager to win the award was Barney Lopas of Richmond, who received the inaugural honors in 1992.

Ball was selected by vote of the field managers and pitching coaches from the International League. He will now be under consideration for the Triple-A classification’s Sports Turf Manager of the Year Award, selected by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) and presented annually at the Baseball Winter Meetings.

With the assistance of Sports Turf Trainee McClain Murphy and the rest of the Coolray Field Grounds Crew, Ball has served as Gwinnett’s Sports Turf Manager since the fall of 2011. Prior to joining the G-Braves, he already had a decorated career in Minor League Baseball. He won a record five consecutive Carolina League Field of the Year Awards from 2006 to 2010 while serving as the Sports Turf Manager for the Advanced-A Myrtle Beach Pelicans. He was named the Class-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year by the STMA in both 2007 and 2010.