If you’ve ever pondered the man power that is required of a baseball playing facility, you’ll typically learn that it takes a handful of people. Some of the finest baseball stadiums around the country are more often than not, operated on by a groundskeeping “crew.”
At Pat Thomas Stadium – Buddy Lowe Field in Leesburg, you’ll quickly find out that that’s not the case.
When the Leesburg Lightning organization was established in 2006, with them they brought Michael Thompson.
Thompson grew up in Tampa, Florida as a child and relocated to the city of Leesburg in 1988. He quickly found himself employment with the city of Leesburg in 1989 in the Parks and Recreation Department.
“I’ve spent time working in many different areas of the city, including the downtown sections of Leesburg, sports complexes, here [Pat Thomas], and really where ever I’ve been needed,” Thompson said. “The city of Leesburg gave me an opportunity back in 1989 and I’ve been blessed ever since.”
This August will mark Thompson’s 27th year with the city of Leesburg.
While the Lightning season only takes place during the hot summer months of June-August, you’ll find Thompson out at Pat Thomas Stadium practically year round. “Starting in about January, I’m out here prepping and getting the field ready for the Leesburg High School baseball season,” Thompson said.
The Leesburg High School Varsity baseball team — JV as well from time-to-time– play their home games at Pat Thomas Stadium.
“Essentially I’m out here at the ballpark Monday-Friday, January to August,” Thompson said.” “It’s a grueling schedule, but the community here in Leesburg makes it easy to come out here and do something that I know makes the fans happy.”
Along with the fans, both players and coaches from local teams and the Lightning organization have always praised Thompson for the countless hours of dedication that he puts forth into making Pat Thomas Stadium a beautiful spectacle.
“It makes coming to work so much easier knowing that I get to come to Pat Thomas,” Thompson said with a smile on his face. “I know how special this place is and it becomes even more special when past players and coaches return to the stadium and take the time to let me know how fortunate they were to play here.”
“Receiving compliments on my work from the people in the community, the Lightning organization, coaches… it’s incredible.”
Hard work and dedication and nothing less is exactly what Thompson puts into assembling Pat Thomas into the facility that so many want to play at. Over the years, he’s implemented several integral additions — an irrigation system, a new drainage system, added bullpens, and much more.
“Pat Thomas has been here for some time,” Thompson said. “Knowing the age of this facility, I’ve made it a priority of mine over the years to keep this facility as safe as possible for the players.”
Despite being a one man crew, Thompson has never looked at his work as being challenging or overbearing. Even though some days may be longer or tasking than others, the uniqueness of what Thompson means to the community and the Lightning organization has never escaped him.
“I’ve always been shown appreciation for what I do here at Pat Thomas,” Thompson said. “This facility is my sanctuary and when my time comes to an end here, I know it’ll be bittersweet.”