Steve Wightman, a longtime former groundskeeper and Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) past-president, is the newest member of the Major League Baseball (MLB) Groundskeepers Hall of Fame.
Before retiring in 2012, Wightman managed sports fields for more than 39 years (36 years at the professional level). Active member in the sports turf industry since 1978, he served as STMA President from 1984 – 1986 and held several leadership positions within local chapters and advisory boards. Wightman is only the 10th MLB Groundskeeper to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“Steve’s dedication and outstanding contributions to Major League Baseball and the sports turf industry has been cemented with this special acknowledgment,” says Kim Heck, CAE, CEO of STMA. “The importance he placed on elevating the profession and his commitment to maintaining safe and aesthetically pleasing playing surfaces has served as inspiration to countless individuals across the country.”
As Head Grounds Manager at Denver’s Mile High Stadium (Denver Broncos / Bears) from 1976 – 1988 and Field Manager from 1988 – 2012 at San Diego’s Jack Murphy Stadium / Qualcomm Stadium (San Diego Chargers / Padres, San Diego State University Aztecs), his lasting impact continues today. From preparing a MLB All-Star game (1992), World Cup (1994), World Series (1998), two Super Bowls (2003, 1998) as well as numerous playoff and championship games, Wightman sits in elite company.
“I am incredibly humbled to win this prestigious award and join the legendary cast of sports turf managers honored before me,” says Wightman. “I couldn’t have achieved this without the unwavering support of my family, friends and colleagues throughout the years.”
To be considered for induction, a person must have ceased employment in the profession for at least five years, and have made a significant contribution to groundskeeping and/or the sports turf industry at the Major League level. An individual’s involvement in the community is also considered. Nominees are submitted to the MLB Groundskeepers Association for a vote. Each team has one vote and a nominee must receive 75% of the vote of all active association members to be elected.
Names of inductees are inscribed on the Gary Vanden Berg trophy – named for the late Mr. Vanden Berg. Previous inductees include Emil Bossard (Indians), George Toma (Royals), Joe Mooney (Red Sox), Dick Ericson (Twins), Harry Gill (Brewers), Pat Santarone (Orioles), Pete Flynn (Mets), Gary Vanden Berg (Brewers) and Marty Schwab (Reds).
The induction ceremony was held during the 20th Annual MLB Groundskeepers Meeting at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas on Jan. 21.