June 2009

Rain Rain Rain….Hats off to the East Coast Grounds Crews!


panama_series_5.jpgIf you did not notice from watching baseball games on the east coast the past few months, we have certainly had our share of rain since the first of the season.  You have to be careful when you complain about to much rain because then it can go the other way.  But for now let’s just state the facts. 

Rain totals from Accuweather in Cities like DC, New York, York, PA., Durham NC, Baltimore have more than doubled the average for the year.  In DC the Nationals have really been taking it hard.  The actual in June to date is 4.22in and the Normal is 2.77 we still have a couple weeks to go. And For the month of May,  the Actual was 8.05 and the normal only 3.82in.  April was similar. 

shea_rain_delay_012_tn.jpgHaving to get the field ready in these conditions can be taxing on the crew, staff, and for sure the field of play.  Multiple (daily) tarp pulls are common to protect the field for the game.  I have heard from several groundskeepers and sports turf managers that  turf and infield conditions have deteriorated due to all of the early spring rains.  At the end of the day,  the team needs to play to meet payroll and as we know the groundscrew is left holding the bag and when a game is rained out.   When a game is called there can be speculation about the field from, the umpires,  players, coaches, management etc.. Unfortunately the buck stops with the head groundskeeper…even if the rain delay or rain out was due to the wrong rain information.  In most cases the groundskeeper is the hero of the day…but there is the other side too.  Kind of unfair as no one can control mother nature and Im pretty sure not to many turf managers went to college to be a meteorologist.  All we can do is..what your parents told you as a kid.  Just do your best son/daughter!  Thumbnail image for rainbow1.JPG

Hopefully the rain will ease at the end of this month.  I have seen some pretty tired looking fields up and down the east coast and they are  directly related to the heavy rains. 

 All I can say is hang in there…thank God for the rain and ask for a little sun.

Happy fathers day!

1-Year after the Olympics….Baseball Continues to Grow in China

baseball 2 still standing.JPG

About 10 months ago, Beijing was making final preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. It sure doesn’t seem like it was that long ago.

A new twist in world traveling has started. Just before we disembarked from the plane, it was was boarded by local health officials and every passenger on the plane had there temperature checked, fortunately no one came up sick.  Compliments of the 
swine flu pandemic.   Ironically once outside, I immediately noticed the lack of air pollution! The 3 million trees they planted last year must have made quite the impact.  Maybe it was just a good couple days,  but the pollution and air index had definitely improved.   It’s really amazing to see how things have changed after a year. 

225_panoramica_Wkb_Field_2_large.jpgWukesong Main baseball stadium(photo below) has been bulldozed down along with the practice field. Field 2’s facade (photo above) is still standing.  Where the main stadium was located is now just a big pile of dirt and a hole in the ground.  Pretty sad.    The Olympic legacy ( for baseball in china) is being moved to a city near the Taiwan /China borders called Shaman.  The plans are to rebuild the Olympic baseballstanding at homeplate main stadium.JPG stadium in the next couple years at the site.  

In the meantime the Fengtai Softball Venue may be changing back to a baseball venue, which was actually the original location for baseball.  Back in 2004, plans were changed to move baseball to the temporary Venue in Wukesong with the intention to return to Fengtai after the games.  There are 4 fields at Fengtai , 2 of which are stadiums.  I am sure one of stadiums will remain as a softball field.   

toilet suite.JPGDuring the evaluation of the press box level at Fengtai we noticed a small restroom located next to the suite. This is pretty common but to have a view of the field while seated on the toilet was rather intriguing.  A sports writers dream! 

After checking out Fengtai’s fields we headed over to the Beijing University to see the college baseball field. It needs some TLC but with the support of alumni and others I believe we can make it work.   Just near the University was an interesting restaurant called “Quiqan” or “QQ”.  Tell me this menu doesn’t remind you of a Big Mac.   As one of the students stated we “study” the Western trends very closely.   I think we call it copy in the Western world. Mcdonalds.JPG

Another baseball venue just outside of the city is under way. They are using our Olympic baseball field design to guide them in the construction of the fields.  “Walker” is the man’s name heading up the operation. He really is a walker. (Actually a speed walker with numerous medals and championships.)  They have been very innovative in adding components to the fields which includes dugouts that that were once 40ft shipping containers. Check it out!container dugout.JPG   The highlight of this field trip was that I actually had a chance to check out the Great Wall of China. Traveling here about18 times during the past 3-4 years I never had time to go.  It was worth the wait.
P6100471.JPG(photo below is Fengtai stadium)

How to build a Baseball Field

Dscn0235Lately some people have been sending me some baseball field construction questions.  Things like  How to build….the field…the mound….the infield etc..? 

Building a baseball field takes planning and unfortunately sometimes more money than you may have in your budget. One of the first questions… Do you have enough land or property and will be the field be oriented properly? A standard baseball field is about 500 x 500 feet not including a seating bowl.  I would also suggest the following questions be asked of those involved before you put a shovel in the ground.

1.  Usage of the field:  Who? How much? and when?  These questions will steer you towards the type of field you will need to build.

2.  What Type of Grass:  Natural…Bluegrass or Bermuda?…or synthetic?

3.  How much money do we have? That’s a loaded question but after the first two questions it is time to bring the accountant in! Where can we find the money to build the field we want?  Are there Grants?  Private? Municipal Funds?  Donations?

4. Who will maintain the new field and at what level ?  In house maintenance?  Outsource maintenance?  Again …budget the entire field including maintenance operations before you build it.  Example: Don’t build a Ferrari when you don’t have the budget to take care of it. Taking care of a high performance sports field takes a lot of money Dscn0236

5. Selecting someone to design and build it? Again.. its an examination of your internal resources and if you have staff that understands how to develop a design or construction specification.  Designing your new field with the right goals for usage is what you should be shooting for. Hiring a reputable firm to design your field?  Should you hire a consultant for owners representation? Should we consider asking for Sponsorships to help offset material costs?  Can the Community help? Have you heard of the MLB Baseball Tomorrow Fund? 


Once you have decided on some of the issues above and hired a reputable sports field contractor to install your field, You will be on your way towards building your field of dreams. Dscn0292