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Woman breaks big-league ground

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DETROIT -- Though she was too busy to take much note, Heather Nabozny made World Series history Saturday night.

The 36-year-old, who was raised in Milford, Mich., became the first female head groundskeeper for a World Series game, after earning a similar distinction for the All-Star Game at Comerica Park a year ago.

Nabozny became the first and -- until last week -- only female head groundskeeper in the modern history of Major League Baseball when she took the job in 1999, the final year of Tiger Stadium. (The Baltimore Orioles last week named Nicole Sherry the head groundskeeper for Oriole Park at Camden Yards.)

Though she didn't particularly aspire to the position until she graduated from the Turf Management Program at Michigan State University in 1993, Nabozny is a natural.

"When I was a kid, we'd have chores around the house. My sister did more inside chores and a lot of the stuff I did was outside. I liked mowing the lawn and driving around in the (1939 Ford) tractor," says Nabozny, who worked for her father's lawn-care business.

After an internship at Michigan State, she worked as a groundskeeper at the Toronto Blue Jays spring training camp in Dunedin, Fla., for two years and became head groundskeeper of the Class A West Michigan Whitecaps in 1994.

The biggest headache with a World Series is the same as a routine game: the weather.

"That's the biggest headache all year long," she says, admitting she's "very excited and very nervous" about the World Series. "You worry about everything. You're kind of on pins and needles."

The weekend's rain kept her and her staff busy, but predictions of snow after Sunday night's game didn't fluster her.

"This time of year, you don't get significant accumulation. ... I'd prefer snow flurries to rain," she says.

The field painting, an additional chore for the postseason, also isn't a major concern.

"I've worked the Super Bowl the last three years (including Super Bowl XL at Ford Field next door to Comerica Park) and helped out with the painting, so I had a lot of experience with it. That's no big deal," she says.

Nabozny has two female groundskeepers on her staff of 40-plus (not all of whom work every game). "I've had more in the past. It just comes in cycles," she says.

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