PHOENIX — George Toma has more than a seven-decade run maintaining athletic fields all over the world.
He was being raised in Edwardsville, staying out of the coal mines, learning the tricks of the trade.
“I got a job with my neighbor at Artillery Park, home of the Wilkes-Barre Barons, the Cleveland Indians Farm Club, when I was 12. Sixteen years old, he made me the head groundskeeper, and from there, I went on,” said Toma.
One of the biggest accomplishments for the “Sodfather,” as Toma has become known, is having worked every single Super Bowl.
With number 57 just a few days away, Toma says he’s calling it a career.
“This is my last Super Bowl definitely, and I would like to see the youngsters carry on,” he said.
As his time maintaining the gridiron comes to an end, Toma likes to look back, acknowledging how much the game has changed.
“First 27 Super Bowls, we only spent $500 on the field now, this field here is $750,000.”
As Super Bowl 57 gets closer and closer, Toma finds himself a little conflicted on who to root for.
“Commissioner Goodell told me, ‘George, you work for the league, the league pays you, you have to be normal, or I can’t cheer for anybody.’ But in my heart, there is the Chiefs, and on the other side is the Eagles,” Toma said.
While this Sunday’s game will be one of Toma’s career highlights, the 94-year-old says he never forgot the area that got him started.
“I’m glad I was brought and raised in the valley with a heart, Wyoming Valley of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania,” he said.
Toma is in several Hall of Fames across the country and here at home.