Ed Attalla and his son Louie Attalla stand together on the field at the Rio Grande Credit Union Field at Isotopes Park before a recent Isotopes game. Ed and Louie are part of the grounds crew and work together to maintain the game field. (Chancey Bush/ )
Copyright © 2022
Ed Attalla doesn’t like showing it around the ballpark.
He’s an old-school type that way.
But the first-year head groundskeeper for the Albuquerque Isotopes couldn’t hide a hint of a smile when asked about the opportunity to work every day with his 24-year-old son, Louie, who is a season employee on the Isotopes field crew .
“We’re shoulder to shoulder pretty much all day,” Attalla said. “He was gone for 10 years (growing up with his mother). I couldn’t sit at a baseball game and hang out with him. Now, every day I can sit and watch a baseball game with him. That’s pretty cool.”
Louie had been working at an Alabama golf course with his dad for the past several years after doing construction work in Iowa for a short time after high school. He had little hesitation about following his dad to Albuquerque when the opportunity, even if just as a season employee, arose.
“I love working with him,” said Louie Attalla. “This was a dream come true. Working on a baseball field with my dad? I mean, this is awesome.”
The two will be on the job Sunday, which is Father’s Day, when the Isotopes are scheduled to wrap up a six-game home series vs. Salt Lake. The Isotopes swept a rain-delayed doubleheader Saturday over the Bees that ended after midnight.
Ed Attalla got to Albuquerque in the spring, taking over for longtime Isotopes groundskeeper Clint Belau in the offseason.
The 52-year-old Attalla has been in groundskeeping for three decades, making a name for himself in minor league baseball for his 10 years of award-winning work with the Jacksonville Suns franchise, then the Double-A affiliate with the Los Angeles Dodgers and later the Florida Marlins.
“This is a small community – the baseball and groundskeepers community, if you will,” said Isotopes general manager John Traub, when asked about how he selected Ed Attala to fill the rather important role for Isotopes Park.
“I talked to a guy who knew Ed and said he might be available. … I knew I wanted an experienced person, and I spoke to some Dodgers people I knew. We have some mutual people in common from our days with the Dodgers. People were very complimentary about him.”
But Attalla wasn’t sure he wanted back in baseball and was enjoying his gig at the Alabama golf course.
And Albuquerque? What did he know about the Duke City before Traub called?
“Absolutely nothing,” Ed Atalla said. “Make a left, like (Bugs) Bunny told me. Well, that and I also know about Jim Valvano and the Pit. He’s a Jersey guy like me. (The late Valvano was born in New York, but played college basketball at Rutgers.)”
Ed Attalla has been in New Mexico since March and Louie moved here in early April. The two lived together – in one room at a Holiday Inn – for two months before a few weeks ago. Then, Ed’s wife, Shannon, and daughter, Savanna, moved to Albuquerque and joined them for the summer.
And how was the bachelor life for the Attalla boys?
“It took a couple days, maybe,” Ed Atalla said when asked if they got on each other’s nerves, living so close.
Louie added that the two rarely spent much time together in the hotel room. Sure, they’d watch hockey together when it was on, but most nights after dinner, Louie would head back to the workshop in the back of Isotopes Park that the grounds crew uses.
While at work, at least, neither can hide the reality that one enjoys being around the other, joking plenty while they work in the summer heat.
“He’s a hard worker and he doesn’t mind working hard,” Ed said of his son as an employee. “… And he listens. He wants to learn. He’s not the type that feels like he knows everything.”
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Louie said he could see himself doing this type of work for a long time if the opportunity presents itself, but understands there’s plenty yet to learn from his dad.
“There’s so much more to learn about all this,” Louie said. “But I’m glad I get to learn it from him. He definitely knows what he’s doing.”
Louie is one of the two seasonal employees on the ground crew with Darren Pedro. Ed Attalla and assistant groundskeeper Thomas Gallegos are in year-round, full-time positions. Others on the grounds crew are paid per game day.
Traub says the crew is doing great work, and he enjoys the addition of the Attallas to the team.
“I’m glad that it’s kind of become a family affair for you,” Traub said. “We’ve tried to operate like a family since we started here, so I’m glad that they’re getting comfortable working here. And the field is looking as good as it has all season.”