The Association of Major League Baseball Groundskeepers will induct Pete Flynn of the New York Mets and the late Pasquale ‘Pat’ Santarone, formerly of the Baltimore Orioles, to its Hall of Fame. They were honored Jan.11 at Coors Field in Denver, home to the Colorado Rockies.
Flynn began his career as an “Original Met” working on the field during the team’s inaugural season at the Polo Grounds in 1962. In 1974, the Mets promoted him to head groundskeeper at Shea Stadium in Flushing, N.Y., and he held that position until 2001.
For the next decade, Flynn served as a member of the Mets grounds crew before retiring in 2011. During his accomplished career, the Mets won the World Series twice (1969, 1986). In addition to preparing the field for concerts and marquee events, the New York Jets shared Shea with the Mets from 1964 to 1983. In the 1974-75 MLB seasons, the New York Yankees also played at Shea while Yankee Stadium was under renovation.
Throughout his career, Flynn provided Catholic schools with grounds advice and donated tools. In 2008, Flynn was elected into the Irish American Baseball Hall of Fame. He was later inducted into the New York Mets Hall of Fame in 2012.
Santarone joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1969 as head groundskeeper at Memorial Stadium. He began his decorated career at age 23 in Elmira, N.Y., with the Class-A affiliate of the Brooklyn Dodgers, where he acquired field duties from his father Val, an Italian immigrant. Soon after, Elmira became an Orioles affiliate.
During his stint with Elmira in the 1960s, he developed a good relationship with future Orioles manager Earl Weaver. In 1969, Weaver and Harry Dalton, the Orioles general manager, called Santarone up to Baltimore to join the team.
In the next 22 seasons with Santarone at the helm, the Orioles captured five American League pennants and won two World Series titles (1970, 1983). During his tenure, Baltimore infielders received 25 AL Gold Glove Awards. In 1991, Santarone retired on Opening Day. Santarone spent his retirement in Montana, enjoying freshwater fishing, cooking and winemaking until he passed in 2008.
Inductees to the MLB Groundskeepers Hall of Fame are honored on the Gary Vanden Berg trophy – named for the late Mr. Vanden Berg. Previous inductees are Emil Bossard (Cleveland Indians), George Toma (Kansas City Royals), Joe Mooney (Boston Red Sox), Dick Ericson (Minnesota Twins) and Harry Gill (Milwaukee Brewers).