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Get To Know The Trash Pandas Groundskeeping Duo 

Charlie Weaver first joined the Trash Pandas in July 2019. (Cristina Byrne/Rocket City Trash Pandas)
January 20, 2022

The dynamic duo of Charlie Weaver and Colby Hunter wear many different hats throughout the day. As the Head Groundskeeper and Assistant Groundskeeper for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the pair can usually be found on the diamond at Toyota Field throughout the calendar year, not just the baseball season.

The dynamic duo of Charlie Weaver and Colby Hunter wear many different hats throughout the day. As the Head Groundskeeper and Assistant Groundskeeper for the Rocket City Trash Pandas, the pair can usually be found on the diamond at Toyota Field throughout the calendar year, not just the baseball season.

They’ll be mowing the grass, installing a new home plate, cleaning the bullpens, updating signs on the outfield wall, shooting t-shirts into the crowd, or making sure the tarp is in working order for the inevitable rainy Alabama summer days.

In the midst a busy schedule to get the field ready for the upcoming baseball season, the pair sat down to talk about their journey to Rocket City, and what it takes to succeed in a physically demanding job.

Q: How did you get the job with the Trash Pandas?

Charlie Weaver: I got here in an unconventional way. I played college baseball at UAH. During my fifth year, the coach let me stay on with a scholarship and I helped take care of the field to help out. During that time, I met (Auburn University Assistant Turf Manager) Bradley Kirkland, and he showed me a website to apply for jobs. From there, I applied for and got an internship with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers. After college, I went to Wisconsin and worked a season there before coming back home. Once I got back, I was working at the Hoover Metropolitan Stadium when I heard a team was coming back to Huntsville. This is where I’m from, so I sent in my resume and some references, got the job, and I started in July 2019.

Colby Hunter: I grew up a big baseball guy. When I grew up, I didn’t want to be sitting in an office. I like being outdoors. So I put two and two together. I went to Auburn, worked on the grounds crew as a student, and got a couple internships. The first was with the Columbus Clippers for three months. Then the most recent one was at Fenway Park with the Boston Red Sox. When I graduated, sports were shut down because of the pandemic. I was lost for a little bit. But right out of school, I got into landscaping before I found this position and started in March 2021.

Q: Charlie, when you got here, what were the challenges with finishing the construction of Toyota Field, only to have the 2020 season cancelled?

CW: When I got here, the field was already designed and it was difficult to make any changes. After the field was finished, we had to make sure it was ready for professional baseball. It took us a month to get ready for that, but once we got ready the season was cancelled. The city put a lot of money into this new facility and we had to keep it in good shape. The grass doesn’t stop growing. I was here every day to make sure we were ready to go.

Q: What is a typical day like during the season?

CW: We usually get here at nine and the first thing we do is mow the field. Then Colby will manage the moisture on the dirt and make sure it’s good to go for batting practice. After lunch, we set up and take down batting practice.

CH: For batting practice, we bring the batting cage and all the screens out. Once they start hitting, we’re there to watch and make a fix if the players need anything. Once both teams hit, we take down the cage and screens. Before the game, we paint the lines and batter’s boxes, get the mound ready, and make the final preparations for the game.

Colby Hunter previously worked at Fenway Park before joining Rocket City. Cristina Byrne/Rocket City Trash Pandas

Q: What was your favorite moment from the 2021 season?

CW: Opening Day. From being here before the stadium was finished and working through 2020 with so much uncertainty, then finally getting to where we were supposed to be all along and taking it in was my favorite part.

Q: How much of your job revolve around weather?

CH: Weather keeps me up at night. Trying to stay focused on the radar for the whole day and making sure there is battery in my phone, it’s exhausting.

CW: Weather is everything. Dealing with it is the tough part. It’s the number one factor that determines what we’re going to do during the day.

Charlie Weaver always keeps the weather forecast handy during the season. Cristina Byrne/Rocket City Trash Pandas

Q: What needs to be done over the offseason?

CW: As soon as the season is over, we’re cutting the grass, making holes and beating up the field to make it rebound better through the winter. This winter, we just replaced the pitching rubber and home plate with new ones. We’re going to clean all the turf around the field and the pads on the outfield wall. We also had to help out with the Christmas Light Show, which was a big undertaking.

Q: What are some of the more unique responsibilities you've been given?

CW: I wasn’t expecting to drive the Polaris around the warning track shooting t-shirts, but we did and it was pretty fun.

CH: It’s all hands on deck here during the games. Shooting the t-shirts was fun. I learned a lot more by helping out with retail and the light show. I did a stint with the Trash Pandancers, but I got fired after the first one. I’m working on a rebound tour there, so be on the lookout for me in 2022.

Q: Lastly, your work is seen by thousands of people every night during the baseball season. How much pride do you take in your job?

CW: It may seem like just grass to normal people, but this is our job and we take a lot of pride in it. Sometimes we get mad at people for being on the grass, but growing it and keeping it right is what we do for a living. I love when people ask questions. So if you see me, ask me a question.