Mike Williams of the Charleston RiverDogs (Low Class A; Sally League) and Doug Tanis of the Winston-Salem Dash (High Class A; Carolina League) won turf-manager awards in their respective leagues, with Riley Park named Best Playing Field in the South Atlantic League.
This is the second time in three years Williams, a former New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays groundskeeper, has won the league award.
“This is another well-deserved honor for Mike Williams and his staff for all the hard and behind-the-scenes work that is put into maintaining this field,” said RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. “Mike works harder than anyone in his industry and the field confirms it. We’re happy as can be for Mike and his staff.”
A native of Athens, Ohio, Williams recently completed his sixth year in Charleston as head groundskeeper.
“It is an honor to represent the South Atlantic League, the Charleston RiverDogs organization and the City of Charleston in receiving this award,” said Williams. “My work is a labor of love and I am truly blessed.”
A professional groundskeeper since 1993, Williams is a 1989 graduate of Ohio University with a degree in recreation management and a master’s in athletic administration that he earned from Ohio in 1991. He furthered his education in turf management at Cornell University from 1995-96.
He received the 1994 Eastern League Groundskeeper of the Year Award and the 1994-95 Beam Clay Professional Field of the Year Award. The Riley Park field was also recognized with the 2009 Sports Turf Manager Award for fields in the South Atlantic League while also being selected as “Best Playing Field” in the league.
For Tanis, this is his first turf-manager award, presented by the Sports Turf Managers Association, Minor League Baseball and the Carolina League. League coaching staffs evaluate all of the league’s playing surfaces in a variety of categories and the award goes to the groundskeeper, grounds crew, and facility that earn the highest grades.
“This came as a welcome surprise and I am truly honored,” Tanis said. “My assistant, Jason Hardy, and I have received a tremendous amount of support from the Dash organization, from the state-of-the-art equipment that would be the envy of most major league teams, to the front office’s assistance with more than 30 tarp pulls throughout the season. I want to thank everyone on my outstanding grounds crew for all the work that they have put in this season and all the coaches and players in the league for their constant feedback on how we can make BB&T Ballpark a better place to play.
“This honor is made even more special considering the quality of the other fields in our league. My colleagues with the other teams all do amazing jobs. To be selected from this group means a lot.”
Tanis and his crew’s expert ability to handle difficult situations was on display even before the start of the regular season. On March 30, the Dash hosted the Chicago White Sox in an exhibition game. That day, Winston-Salem received approximately two inches of rain and a steady drizzle continued throughout the afternoon and into the evening, with temperatures staying in the low 40s. Tanis and his crew kept the field as dry as possible and the playing surface was deemed more than acceptable to White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen and general manager Kenny Williams. Most importantly, the game was started on time and was played without incident.
Tanis is wrapping up his fifth season with Winston-Salem as its head groundskeeper. He joined the then-Warthogs in January of 2007 after working for the Lakewood BlueClaws of the South Atlantic League. Prior to working in baseball, Tanis spent four years in the Marine Corps and served his country in the Iraq War. He holds an Associate’s degree in turf management and is a native of Pequannock, New Jersey.
Image: BB&T Ballpark.
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