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Meet Mike Simmons, Runyon Sports Complex’s Renaissance man

  • RFSC Renaissance man
    RFSC Renaissance man

    Mike Simmons mows the grass on Andenucio Field in preparation for the Artie Escobado Memorial baseball tournament. Simmons said using the power mower is his favorite part of the job.[CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/STEPHEN SWOFFORD]

  • RFSC Renaissance man
    RFSC Renaissance man

    Simmons, a Pueblo County employee, has been working at the Runyon Sports Complex for about 23 years.[CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/STEPHEN SWOFFORD]

  • RFSC Renaissance man
    RFSC Renaissance man

    "People would probably kill for this job, I think." says Simmons. "I have the best job in the world. I get to hang out at the ballpark all the time." [CHIEFTAIN PHOTO/STEPHEN SWOFFORD]


BY AUSTIN WHITE | The Pueblo Chieftain | JUN 25, 2019

They don’t call it a baseball diamond just because of the shape.

With the right amount of love and care, a square piece of dirt and a couple patches of grass could turn into something that’s more like a work of art.

And one of the leading sculptors at the Runyon Sports Complex for 23-plus years is Pueblo County Parks and Rec Supervisor Mike Simmons.

″(Simmons) would just as soon we not play (on the fields). Just have the grass look nice and not play.” Runyon Sports Complex general manager Dave Dudley said. “I just think a guy like Mike needs a little love because he’s been down here for so long, he’s put up with a lot of things.”

When Simmons started, Runyon looked quite a bit different, with only three fields back then.

Over the years, Simmons has seen the construction of three more fields, now totaling six, the installment of turf on Corsentino Field, a new clubhouse and concession stand built, and other renovations.

Those upgrades eventually need repair, and that’s where Simmons comes in. He will fix broken pipes or any larger scale problems that Runyon or any park in the county may have.

“I even like getting in a hole with a foot of mud and irrigation trying to fix something,” Simmons said. “It’s been a labor of love, and it’s nice when you see these teams come from out of town and they think a college plays here and they don’t realize it’s our little league and our high schools play here.

“That’s the kind of stuff I like to see, other people enjoying it.”

Like many Puebloans, baseball has been a part of Simmons from Day One — and the Runyon Sports Complex has been the catalyst.

Except Simmons never played on either of the main baseball fields in Hobbs and Andenucio Field, since he didn’t play baseball growing up.

That never stopped Simmons from loving the game, though, and it continues to bring him back as much as he can.

“I guess that’s what kept me going more than anything is being outside,” Simmons said. “People would probably kill for this job, I think. I have the best job in the world; I get to hang out at the ballpark all the time.”

Well, maybe not all the time.

With Simmons supervising the whole county, he is often called to other parks and fields around the city, resulting in less time at Runyon than he would like.

But the work ethic Simmons has displayed over the years has been appreciated by the directors at Runyon.

“Mike’s very particular about how he wants things done. And I know early on when he was down here more, he was real particular about how he wanted the grass, how he wanted the lines, how he wanted everything done,” Runyon director Dennis Downs said. “We try to do that because we don’t want to cause him or the other guys more work.

“Mike’s a good guy and he really does care about this place. He puts a lot into it.”

The amount of time put into the field is well-respected, and that’s reflected in the pride for Runyon that the people of Pueblo continue to display.

Steel City members are eager to share their opinion on Runyon, and the work from Simmons is a large reason why.

“That’s what sets Runyon apart from the other fields, in my opinion,” Downs said. “You have guys like Mike that are down here and you know stuff is going to get done and get done right, and he takes a lot of pride in what he does.”

Simmons really is one of the guys who gets things done, Downs says, citing as example his progression handling major problems at the complex.

With years of experience using his hands, specifically at Runyon, almost no one knows the insides and outsides of Runyon like Simmons does.

“He’s funny because, Sunday morning, you call and he’ll come down here,” Downs said. “You have a problem with water, you have a problem with something, he’s down here.”

Simmons said he could retire now with how long he’s been working for the county and Runyon.

But taking a seat and not being at the front of keeping Runyon and his city looking the best it could be just doesn’t interest Simmons in the slightest.

Runyon, in the eyes of Simmons, truly is his pièce de résistance.

“I don’t know what it is about (Runyon), but it’s kind of addicting,” Simmons said. “The whole place is my baby, so I kind of spend a little more time there than I should; but I just want it to be as good as it can be.”

Chieftain sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at awhite@chieftain.com or on Twitter @ajwrules44.

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