MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) – Baseball is a huge part of Charlie Weaver’s life. Following pitching careers at Bob Jones and UAH, the Madison native hung up his glove and picked up a rake, finding a passion in groundskeeping.

“At UAH, the players were kind of the grounds crew, that’s just kind of the way it is. I always took pride in the way that the field looked and the mound and everything and I was like man, I could do this as a living. Reached out to some folks, got an internship with minor league baseball up north in Wisconsin,” Weaver said.

Once the Trash Pandas organization launched here in the Rocket City, Weaver found his way home as head groundskeeper.

“I was brought in basically the day before the field started to be installed. Growing up in this area, going to Bob Jones and UAH, finding out that this was my passion, I think being able to do that in your hometown is incredibly special,” Weaver added.

Weaver and his assistant are out on the field every day, dealing with the always-changing Alabama weather, and doing the maintenance work that the field needs to reach its fullest potential.

“It differs every day, we’re trying to keep our grass alive and beautiful. We’re trying to keep our dirt playable for the guys. First thing I do is mow, I mow the infield, I mow the outfield. After we mow it’s pretty much working on dirt. Drag, we’ll water,” Weaver said.

Last year after 71 home Trash Pandas games, some college baseball and even a football game, Weaver found out that all of those long hours and hard work were worth it as he was named 2022 Minor League Baseball Groundskeeper of the Year.

“I know a good bit of the other groundskeepers in the league and I am by no means the best but to be recognized as the top one in the league and all of baseball was truly an honor. Not something I was expecting but at the end of the day it was nice to receive that, it’s very special. It takes a great staff, obviously me and my assistant’s knowledge of what to do. Lot of man hours, we’re here from dust until dawn pretty much,” Weaver said.

Getting that honor for his work on a field that didn’t even exist while he was growing up is pretty surreal for Weaver, as he gets to give back to the baseball community that helped shape him.

“Without the baseball community, I wouldn’t be here. I grew up playing at Palmer Park and then at Bob Jones and then at UAH. The Stars left and had the Trash Pandas not been back, there’s no telling what I’d be doing, I probably wouldn’t be doing this. I’m lucky that baseball is still a big part of this community,” Weaver said.

Now that the team is officially back for another season and the field has been prepped, Weaver is ready to sit back and enjoy that finished product, before of course getting right back to it.

“I enjoy seeing the guys relish in my hard work, they also appreciate what I do so that makes it even better. But that’s my job. I prepare the field for them and then they play on it and then I fix it, it’s the cycle but it’s fun. Once that first pitch is thrown, I can kind of take a breath and be like alright we made it, the game has started and we can chill, all of my hard work for the past few months has finally come to fruition,” Weaver added.

The Trash Pandas will continue their opening weekend homestand on Friday, April 7.