CHARLESTON, SC - If Mike Williams receives another award, he'll need more office wall space.
The playing field at Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Park has once again been recognized as the "Best Playing Field" in the South Atlantic League and as a result, the popular head groundskeeper has engineered one more award.
This time, the SAL Sports Turf Managers Association has named Riley Park as the league's "Professional Baseball Field of The Year."
It marks the third time in four years that Riley Park and Williams, the former New York Mets and Tampa Bay Rays' head groundskeeper, has acquired the award.
"Yet again, this is another well-deserved honor for Mike and his staff for all the hard and behind-the-scenes work that is put into maintaining this field," said Charleston RiverDogs General Manager Dave Echols. "Mike works harder than anyone in his industry and the field's year-round condition confirms it."
Finishing second behind the Charleston RiverDogs were the Greensboro Grasshoppers while the Lakewood BlueClaws were third.
The field is used for baseball games and practices by the RiverDogs and The Citadel, and also gets a lot of use from special events that are held at Riley Park.
A native of Athens, Ohio, Williams is completing his seventh year in Charleston as head groundskeeper.
"It is an honor to represent 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.
Under Williams' guidance, his crew won top honors in the Florida State League in 1999 and 2000 while with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Prior to the 2006 season, Williams worked on the grounds crew for the World Baseball Classic at Hiram Bithorm Stadium in San Juan, Puerto Rico.