The man behind one of the most beautiful parks in Minor League Baseball, RiverDogs Head Groundskeeper Mike Williams has been honored as the Class-A Sports Turf Manager of the Year by the Sports Turf Managers Association.
“Mike has been one of the best in the business for years, and we as a staff are thrilled to see him recognized on this stage,” said RiverDogs President and General Manager Dave Echols. “Our fans, players, and staff are spoiled with the beautiful playing surface maintained with a meticulous attention to detail by Mike and his crew each night at The Joe.”
Williams, who will be honored for his accomplishment at the Baseball Winter Meetings Award Luncheon in Orlando on December 11, is selected for the first time by the Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA), who give a nod to the top groundskeeper at each level of Minor League Baseball every season.
“Our minor league members continually demonstrate uniqueness and skill while maintaining safe and playable surfaces," says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. “The high-quality submissions illustrate the individual merits for winners and we’re proud to honor their truly fantastic results.”
Since 2000, STMA and MiLB have honored a member who manages a field at the Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A, and Short Season/Rookie ball levels. Winners are chosen by a 16-member awards committee, compiled by STMA. Each nominee is independently scored on cultural practices, game day routine, resource utilization, staff management and the groundskeeper’s involvement and support of the sports turf industry.
Since joining the RiverDogs in 2006, Williams has consistently provided a pristine playing surface for the Yankees’ Class-A affiliate at The Joe. During his tenure in Charleston, Riley Park has been honored as the top playing field in the South Atlantic League five times in nine seasons under his leadership, including most recently in 2017. In addition, The Joe has been named STMA’s South Carolina Baseball Field of the Year four times (2009, 11, 12, & 14) with Williams at the helm.
A professional groundskeeper since 1993, Williams formerly served as the head groundskeeper for the New York Mets and the Tampa Bay Rays previously. A native of Ohio, his other accolades include the 1994 Eastern League Groundskeeper of the Year Award and the 1994-95 Beam Clay Professional Field of the Year Award.