The Greener Grass Grant - Trenbeath ’93
Willamette Baseball Player > Business Economics Major > Arizona Diamondbacks Groundskeeper
By Jamie Timbrell ’06, MBA’08
As a young teenager, Grant Trenbeath ‘93 would ride his bike down to John Lewis Field almost every summer day. His father, Willamette Head Baseball Coach Bill Trenbeath, had bought him the bike so he could get to his summer job as ballpark groundskeeper. Within a few years, young Trenbeath was playing second base for the Bearcats and maintaining the field as part of a work-study job. Now, twenty years later, what Trenbeath would learn on those hot summer days and rain-soaked winters has led him to a career as the head groundskeeper for the Arizona Diamondbacks Major League Baseball organization.
“Twelve to fourteen years on the field at Willamette eventually got me this position,” he says. “I loved playing baseball and always enjoyed making the baseball field as nice as possible.” Trenbeath graduated from Willamette in 1993 as the school’s all-time home run king — a record recently passed by Kyle Stalker ‘09. He had spent the summer of the previous year maintaining Miles Field for the Southern Oregon A’s, a minor league team in Medford, Ore., affiliated with the Oakland A’s. Upon graduation, he returned to this position.
“You can look back at the end of the day and feel good about what you did.”
Miles Field won the Northwest League Field of the Year award for the 1994 season and Trenbeath was promoted to head groundskeeper for the Oakland A’s spring training fields in Phoenix, Ariz., later that fall. In 1996, the Arizona Diamondbacks’ rookie league team worked out and played their home games at Phoenix Municipal Stadium — the spring training stadium for the Oakland.
A’s — allowing Trenbeath a chance to showcase his fields tothe baseball operations staff of the Diamondbacks. In the fall of 1997, the team hired him to oversee construction of what was originally named Bank One Ballpark and to be the head groundskeeper for the inaugural season.
“When I was taking care of the field at Willamette, I wanted it to be the best. During my tenure there, Willamette’s field was considered one of the best in the Northwest,” he says. “I liked what I was doing, and once my playing days had concluded, I figured I should try to make it to the highest level.”
On Sundays, Trenbeath’s wife Trina Hettinga Trenbeath ’95 and two daughters, Annika and Téa, can be found in the stands of now renamed Chase Field in downtown Phoenix watching their father work.
“You can look back at the end of the day and feel good about what you did as opposed to sitting in an office for eight hours and asking yourself, ‘What did I just do?’ There’s gratification from looking back and seeing what you just accomplished,” he says.
A business economics major while attending Willamette, Trenbeath’s unusual career trajectory has benefited from what he learned in the classroom as well as from outside. “My education background has been fantastic,” he says. “Come budget time, the accounting people joke that they have to worry about various departments, but they never have to worry about the grounds department.”
Highlights from his years with the Diamondbacks include becoming friends and playing golf with some of the players, such as veteran pitcher Randy Johnson and slugger Luis Gonzalez. Trenbeath was there when the team won the 2001 World Series against the New York Yankees, and his father was on the field with him for the National Anthem at the Diamondbacks’ inaugural game in 1998.
Grant’s father, Bill Trenbeath, is a notable Willamette community member himself and served the school for almost three decades: as head baseball coach (1974–86), as a member of the alumni relations office (1987), and as director of athletics (1987–2000).
Jamie Timbrell ’06, MBA’08 majored in classics and mathematics at Willamette and now works in the Bay Area as a freelance writer.