So much of Tim Wilson’s life has centered around that majestic forest green structure in Sodo.
After starting on the grounds crew in 1999, when it opened as Safeco Field, he turned it into a full-time career in 2002, earning a promotion to assistant groundskeeper. It was also in that same year in Safeco where he proposed to his wife, Maureen. And in 2003, they said their vows on home plate.
Now, he will be in charge of making sure the manicured playing surface and emerald grass remains up to the standards set by the man he will replace, his mentor and friend Bob Christofferson.
On Thursday afternoon, the Mariners announced that Wilson had officially been named director of grounds of the building now named T-Mobile Park.
“Tim’s two decades of experience at this ballpark have given him unique insight into what it takes to maintain the field as one of the best in baseball,” Trevor Gooby, the Mariners vice president of ballpark operations, said in a news release. “He is not only skilled in the science and technology of turf management, but uses those skills to ensure the field is not only beautiful but meets or exceeds all MLB standards.”
Wilson had been serving as the interim head groundskeeper after Christofferson “retired” abruptly in early June. The details of Christofferson’s departure are muddled with many sources and Christofferson himself saying that it wasn’t necessarily a voluntary retirement.
But the easygoing Wilson embraced the unenviable task of replacing the man he worked alongside for so many years while doing so under the unique conditions of social distancing, mask-wearing and no fans.
“I wouldn’t be here if not for Bob,” Wilson said in a news release. “He gave me my first opportunity to learn the business and I will be forever grateful for all that he taught me. It’s a big responsibility to follow a legend, and I’m proud to carry on the tradition of excellence he established.”
A native of Bremerton, Wilson earned his degree in turf management from Penn State University.
Wilson has been on the grounds crew for many of the memorable moments in T-Mobile Park’s history, including the 2001 All-Star Game and 116-win season, Ichiro Suzuki’s pursuit of the single-season hits record and Edgar Martinez’s farewell game.
He also went to Korea twice to help build playing surfaces for teams in the Korean Baseball Organization as well as train grounds crew members.
Wilson and the Mariners grounds crew has also had the difficult task of working with the staging of the numerous non-baseball events at the ballpark, including WWE’s 2003 WrestleMania, U.S. Men’s and Women’s Gold Cup Soccer, the short-lived Seattle Bowl and the new trend of concerts in the stadium with Paul McCartney, Tom Petty, The Eagles, Billy Joel and Pearl Jam.
With the coronavirus pandemic, there won’t be any events at T-Mobile this offseason, including the Enchant Christmas festival that was a massive moneymaker for the organization but did massive damage to the playing surface.
Wilson plans to continue some of the unique mowing patterns he used during the shortened and fan-less season in 2020 and continue to rotate them while maintaining the integrity and quality of the playing field and grass.