November 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Beijing_olympic_team We have a lot to be thankful for.  The way a lot of people see it, Being born in America is like winning life’s lottery.  Thanksgiving is pretty much an American Holiday and it represents who we are as a people.  Other countries have similar holidays but theirs are not tied to the establishment of a colony.  The history of the Pilgrims of 1619 set the stage for the annual 1-day event… Basically giving thanks to God for the Fall harvest.  Its all about the crops. I guess Pilgrims were groundskeepers too. 

Having traveled the globe a few times I can honestly say we are very fortunate to live in this land and this era.  In these travels, I have found that giving thanks is the first gesture of becoming a friend.  One of the first words I learn in a new country is how to say thank you.  Think about it….  Xei hshe (Chinese), Gracious (Spanish), Dank u (dutch) , Aragatiu (Japanese), Efharisto (Greek)….everyone has heard these words.  Being thankful for family and especially there understanding of how much you travel is high on my list probably the same for most groundskeepers as they spend the entire season at the park. 

I enjoy posting these notes, photos etc…and more importantly giving those who represent our industry around the world the credit they deserve. Having a great crew and staff to host all of the international and local events we manage for MLB, IBAF, USA, Olympics etc.. is something I am thankful for everyday.  Especially, Marti Flynn who is the glue to our entire team.  Thanks Marti!   

Going back to my son’s Scout days I remember a song we did.  Thought it be fitting for the day.

I am thankful to be an American,
To live in the greatest land of all.
In a nation blessed, it’s the very best,
I can stand with my head up tall.

I am thankful to be an American,
To be born in a land that’s free.
I am thankful to God for allowing me to be,
An American.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Ibaf_front_news_shot Taipei – The 2007 Baseball World Cup concluded Sunday the same way it started?soggy.  Despite a light drizzling rain, and a few more gray hairs, the 2007 world cup baseball tournament crowned a new champion? USA! They beat the Cubans in another classic international show down 6-3.  All the games were good, but the people, made it a great experience. Not just the fans but the folks we spent the past month with on the field. 

The semi and final games were played in Tianmu and Hsinchuan baseball stadiumsUsacuba_practice  located in Taipei City. Chad Olsen, Jeff Nancarrow and Darrell Lemmer provided direction to the local groundskeeping crews, which consisted of local high school baseball teams.  These kids were the MVP?s of the tournament.  They arrived at the stadium at 7: 00 am and didn?t leave until the fields were prepped for the next day, often after 11:00 pm. They were responsible for not only field operations, but shagging balls, tarp crew, bat boys, ball boys and assisted stadium maintenance staff with whatever needed to be done.  They did a great job! 

Usa_panama_game_lineup The crowds were small, except for when Chinese-Taipei played.  The TPE crowds were phenomenal with their trademark blow horns and other noise makers.  The smaller crowds of the other countries weren?t very loud, but they were still effective.  The five infamous hecklers from Canada were especially entertaining!  The fans are a big reason international baseball is so exciting for me.  You just don?t know what you?ll see.   

One of the more difficult field challenges was putting the big tarp on the field (as it always is).  The consistent wind and gusts exceeding 30 mph made it difficult every time the tarp went on the field.  The tarp roll was a 30 ft. piece of schedule 80 pipe which added to the level of difficulty.  The field held up to Growing_rye the heavy tournament traffic considering the field had no grass, just 4 short weeks ago. All of the materials used for the renovations and maintenance were provided locally and were high maintenance.  We completed everything we could think of before, between and after each game to allow for consistent tournament play.  We even got a chance to grow some rye grass on Tianmu stadium befoe the final round.  We pre-germinated some seed and it popped 2 days before the event to give us some needed color. 

We look forward to the Asian Olympic qualifier next month, also to be held in Taiwan.  The Asian Qualifier goes to the Olympics in beijing.  Teams will include Taiwan, Korea, Japan and Thailand.

Story Line by Chad Olsen & Murray… photo compliments IBAF, Jeff, Chad an Murray

Tough Competition in World Cup Games

Dscf2383 With a few games under our belt, things are starting to settle down with the fields and facilities, but not without some serous TLC of the fields!  Due to poor drainage behind the plate area in Teinmu, we had to remove the turf and install walkways.  Not a big fan of walkways but since we do not have thick cut sod locally and the turf was continuing to deteriorate from traffic… the walkways were a quick and achievable solution.  We actually removed the turf and installed the walkways only a few hours before our noon game between Korea and Thailand. Again, it couldn’t have happened without a great team effort from ourTeimu_walkways groundscrew.  The rain is finally subsiding from the Typhoon so that should make things a bit easier on the ground crews.  We have yet to allow teams to take BP on the championship field in Teinmu due to the new turf.  We will probably start  allowing them to take infield tomorrow.  With 25+ games and workouts we needed to reduce usage to ensure the field remains safe until the end of the tournament…everyone agrees.  Tienmu has great batting tunnels and bullpens under the stadium so the teams really do not have a problem with it.

Painting_foullines_and_grading_track USA had a tough loss against Italy but bounced back with a nice win against Japan.  I had talked with Bill Holcomb the pitching coach for Team Italy just the day before.  Italy is bouncing back from a poor performance in the Olympic Qualifier where they didn’t even place to move into the next Olympic tournament.  After coming in 5th or 6th in Barcelona, the federation kind of cleaned house and brought in a new coaching staff.  Looks like its working for them. You never know what can happen in these internationals tournaments even when teams are heavily favored to win. Above the guys handpaint the foul lines. They normally use chalk as they do not have a sprayer for the lines. We helped them build a template and found some latex based paint.  They turned out nice.

We also planted another several hundred pounds of pre-germinated rye seed in  Teamusa_beats_mexicoTeinmu.  This should pop in about 3 or 4 days.  Hsingsuan stadium is holding up well.  The parks in Taichung are showing some wear but that was expected.   

Dscf2375 George our faithful and always smiling translator helped us find a radar site so we can monitor the weather more closely via Internet.  His assistance along with our other interpreters Paul in Taichung, Joe in Hsingsuan and John in Intercontinental have proved be invaluable to the success of the games.  With an off day scheduled on Monday it will be used for improving the fields.  In Teinmu we have a makeup game with Taiwan and Italy.  Italy is actually going to play a game in Tiuliou Stadium near Taichung Wednesday. They would need to travel from Taipei to Taichung late after the game on Tuesday and they had a noon game againstDscf2087  japan the next day.  Moving this game makes a lot of sense as now it will be played at 5pm. I mentioned this stadium in an earlier blog as I think its one of the top parks in all of Asia.  USA takes on Spain today.  Its at 5am east coast time.  You can watch the games for free via streaming at the following link .

Praying for Peace and a Safe Tournament

Prayers_for_no_rain After 2 days the steady rain never subsided for the 2007 World Cup opener in Taiwan and unfortunately it ended up being a wash out …but it wasn’t without special offerings to the heavens and a gallant effort of the ground crew. Our turf crew is made up of a group of students from a local high school.  Its the same with all of the sites where we are playing. Prior to the game the Taiwanese burn paper money in a wire screen behind homeplate that is meant to be for family members that have passed away and also for good luck. In another offering behind homeplate the stadium staff burnt incense below a table of food for God.  Its a standard practice as the Taiwanese are quite religious and have a wonderfulFood_for_god  attitude about life and being thankful for what they have. These symbolic gestures were nice to see on a dreary rainy evening.  (Didn’t know God liked Coca Cola)

Even though the game was rained out we were able to spend sometime sitting in the dugout and chatting about life issues, sharing stories about baseball , etc…  Hopefully tomorrow we will have a chance to at least start a game at Teinmu before the rains hit again.  The Typhoon off the coast is Schiller_opening causing problems that know one could predict. Eight teams were present for the mini opening ceremonies as well as President Schiller (far right) .  The event was shortened due to the rain. The event team had planned an elaborate dance and musical.  There was even a sold out crowd but mother nature had other plans.  Off to Taichung tomorrow.

Almost Ready in Taiwan for World Cup

Logo_painting It’s hard to believe that less than a month ago we were looking at Teinmu field in Taipei wondering what happened to the grass.  We were performing our typical inspections on the fields and was somewhat caught by surprise that the local ownership had stripped the field.  After that shocker they pushed the zoysia grass on us, as it is supposedly the best grass for the area and for there regular league seasons that play into the winter.  Well …Jeff Nancarrow and his Taiwan ground crew team came through and not a day to early. Actually we have a few touch ups tomorrow but its going to be fine.  The evening temps dip just into the low 60’s so the zoysia isn’t really growing this time of year, but the roots of the turf are well Shinsuan_chad_tracy established.  Its going to start looking rough as we get to the end of the tournament but we will keep pounding it with fertlizer and rye grass. At this stage that’s about all you can do.   Thanks to Chad Kropff and Tracy Schnewies for helping us out on this one. They begin there 26 hour trek back to Virginia tonight after renovating the fields in Hsinsuan and TioLiou.  Teams have been very pleased with the field conditions during early workouts.  A Pre World Cup practice game was held in Tioliou  stadium 2 days ago in Taichung between Tienmu Australia and Taiwan drew a crowd of 12000+.  The Taiwanese love there baseball..especially there home team.  They will pack the park to watch the national team play and the noise that comes from the stands is nothing like you have ever heard. 

Nats get Grass!!!

Nationals_field_sod_job_1_1 Like a proud father, Larry Divitto Head groundskeeper for the Nationals and his assistant John are smiling ear to ear as the emerald green Bluegrass turf begins to roll out over the field.  Sod day is a BIG day and it really gets people excited about the field because you know things are close to being completed.  Its like putting paint on your new house!  Chad Price at Carolina Green and his crew are doing a fabulous job considering the extremely fast paceNationals_field_larry_and_john_1 of the project.  The due date for sod was November 1st and guess what…the baby came a little early.   There is approximately 100,000 square feet of sod being laid on the field over the the next few days.  The big rolls will provide excellent stability.  Having the sod down before winter like RFK will allow for a much more successful root structure. Nationals_field_1_

2007 World Cup in Taiwan-Final Preps

Chad_on_mower Over the past few weeks we have been preparing the Baseball fields in Taiwan for the 2007 World Cup.  Teinmu and Hsinsuan Stadium in Taipei are really coming along nicely as the mounds and plates have been rebuilt to MLB standards and the turf has taken a turn for the better.  With the tournament beginning November 6th its not a moment to soon.  Chad Kropff has been busy in Hsinsuan and Jeff Nancarrow has been growing in an entire new field over the past month at Teinmu. 

Setting_bricks About 4 hours south, Joe Skrabak in Taichung Stadium and Erik Frey at Back_lapping_tiulouIntercontinental stadium  are preparing the fields for the Group A of the 12 team tournament.  Tracy Schneweis is in Touliou stadium outside of Taichung city where they have started to play friendly games.  Its shaping up to be a good Spreading_fert_at_tienmu_jpg tournament with some great improvements of the playing conditions.  Improvising to make things work is the name of the game in countries with limited resources.  As you can see from the equipment it is old and obviously fertilizing from the back of a cart is probably not the most accurate way to apply products but it works.  Taiwan is farther along than many but even in the turf management business they are a bit behind our western partners.  Washing_lips_2                     Overhead