July 2006

Fun Ballpark and Field Signs

Keep_off_the_grassTraveling to hundreds of stadiums and fields around the world I have had the privilege of seeing some pretty interesting signage.  Here are a few of my favorites. 

Feel free to blog your own. 

1763100r20103a1This one is in front of a "dugout" at the Olympics in Athens.   

Then there are the Rules and regulations signs that all parks have. I found the one below at the 100,000 seat MCC in Australia to be quite interesting.Melbourne_sign_3  TRIVIA: Where was the largest single baseball game attendance ever recorded? Not the USA!  ANSWER: Melbourne Australia at the 1956 Olympics..Aussies vs.USA team in an exhibition match..103,000 people! (In this stadium)


This one basically tells you in China to "keep the scenic area clean."   Getting  the Olympic signs  ready for the baseball stadium in Beijing should be fun!   

One stadium sign I have seen in all the newer stadiums around the U.S. that draws attention is the "Umpires Room" sign… just below the sign it’s also written in Braille. 

Check it out:   www.sfgate.com/…/2006/02/02/dip.DTL&o=5

Dragging Tips for a Baseball Infield

Field_drag_4x6 One the major parts of the field that requires a lot of TLC is the infield clay.  Many people watch the dragging ritual before a game but probably do not realize that its the 4th or 5th time they have dragged the field that day using a variety of drags.. You have flex drags, rigid drags, coco mats, nail drags, float board drags, harrow drags, etc..

In addition to dragging the field before the games, groundskeepers at the pro level even drag the field during the games.  There are several methods to dragging a baseball field and several factors you need to consider as to the type of drag(s) you may choose.  Types of infield clay, the moisture level and your equipment will dictate the level of dragging and best type of drag you will need.


Many sport complexes use the 3 wheel "sand pro" type units to pull a drag.  They are fast and very agile. Some folks prefer a small smooth tired tractor to perform this function because it tends to leave less tire tracks and ruts. We even see fields being dragged by hand in some parks.  Sometimes because that’s all they have to drag it with…also many believe hand dragging puts the best finish drag on the infield.

The 4 ft x 6 ft flex mat is probably the most used in recreation level fields.  If you need to perform a leveling task with the flex mat you can also get them ridged . A rigid drag pulls more material in the screen and does not float with he contours like the flex drags. The 3×3 rigid drags really help  the baselines as well as areas around the mound and plate stay level.  A heavier drag  or one with a leveling bar on the front is needed when the clay particles do not break up easily because the small particles from the nail dragging have dried out.

Dragging tips:

  1. Its not a race so take your time especially as your turn.   Always keep the drag about a foot away from the grass and always pull the bases when you drag.  Trying to dodge second base might be fun but you are changing the grade of the your field and causing lips when you hit the turf with the drag.
  2. If the drag doesn’t fit down the baseline?don?t pull it down the baseline! You need to rake these areas and use a smoothing board.Field_drag_big_circle_1
  3. Initially do a small circle pattern across the entire field then make a center line drag from end to end. 5thinning_drag_1
  4. Alternate patterns and dragging direction on a daily basis from Clockwise to counter clock wise.
  5. Select the finish drag that provides the smoothest surface.
    1. Coco mats are common for final dragging because they basically brush the clay and do not move material like the big drags. Feild_drag_1
    2. Some flex mats have a leveling bar on the front that helps to remove small bumps from the workouts.  
    3. Before dragging make sure you have proper moisture and have used a ?nail type? drag to remove the deep rutsDscn0299.
    4. Give the field a little water after the drag to stabilize the surface.
    5. At some of the allstar games you have seen designs in the clay areas.  This material is calcined clay and is a lighter color than the rest of the infield.  It may appear to be a ridge but it is a soil conditioner used regularly for infield maintenance.Soil_conditioners   

2008 Olympic Qualifier for baseball in Cuba

Cuba_opening_game_1 It has been 7 years since we were in Cuba preparing the field for the Baltimore Orioles and Cuban National Team Series.  We had a great crew composed of both American and Cuban groundskeepers!   

We just returned from Havana after evaluating 3 stadiums/ fields for the 2006 Olympic Qualifier which will be held next month in Cuba.  What was interesting is that the city and area hasn’t changed very much since we were there.  (Actually hasn’t changed to much since the late 1950’s.)  The main stadium field  in Havana was re-grassed a few years ago and looks a lot better.  Not yet 100%… but its a start for a country that has few resources for baseball field development.  The tournament will be held in 3 stadiums Latino Americana, Nelson Fernandez and Santiago Changa.  All of which are within 30 minutes of downtown Havana.

Dscn1497Twelve teams will compete for 2 slots in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. This will be the last Olympics for baseball and softball unless the IOC makes a change in  2009.  We will have to wait an see.  Regardless of that issue… this tournament is going to be very exciting.  Caribbean baseball always is!   The delegation party in the photo performing the evaluations is (left to right)   Carlos Acosta President of Cuban Baseball federation, Stanley Javier MLB Players Union, Pedro Almenares Baseball Facility Manager, Lou Melendez MLB VP International Operations, myself and Luis Contador Secretary General Cuban Baseball.  Since many of the players in the tournament are to be borrowed from MLB owned clubs the need to have the facilities in pretty good condition are required.

The countries head groundskeeper, Cuba_latino_amer_field Pedro Almenares is a good Friend from the previous event.  He actually played in the Dodgers Organization in the early 50’s with Sandy Koufax and many others major leaguers. He is currently responsible for the youth development of the Cuban baseball federation overseeing several youth fields and a very nice youth baseball stadium.   

This photo shows the new turf at Latino Americano. 


More to come on this project and the growth of international baseball.