Its hard to believe that 10 years have passed since Y2K and a crazy era of baseball is ending yet another year. Reflecting on this past year ..the 2nd 09 World Baseball Classic where we spent so much time with our friends in PR and Mexico. The 09 World Baseball Cup in europe… both being successes. Meeting President George Bush (above photo) in Beijing was pretty cool. He had a tough decade to work with. The 9-11 terrorist attack that changed the way we live today was on his watch. Unfortunately there was bad news to go with the good as the end of baseball in Olympics came to pass, even though our leaders made a gallent but failed attempt to reinstate the sport. There is talk of launching another campaign for the 2020 games but that is a stretch. Considering the poor economic conditions of the world , I guess the sport overall had a pretty good year. Looking back at the decade was pretty cool. Highlights would have to inlcude the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2006 World Baseball Classic, the many Olympic qualifiers in Cuba, Spain and Taiwan and USA winning Silver in 2008, Gold in 2000 as well as Gold in the past to World Cup Championships.
Our teams and ballparks that we all take care of held up well considering the industry and economics. I guess logged about 250,000 miles this year and probably gone from home half the year. I was happy to celebrate my 25th anniversary this year. Having said that Im glad to be home for the holidays as many of our military do not have that option . God bless everyone and have a Happy New year.
Its not something every groundskeeper wants to hear that there field will become an ice rink in the winter months. It has become a standard of operation in Lancastor PA. at Clipper Magazine Baseball Stadium where every winter for the past few years the right field area is removed and slightly graded and the ice floor is installed. This floor is used for numerous activities throughout the winter months and then taken down around mid to late february. Probably takes about 10 days for installation, but in these tough economic times…additional revenue in the off season is pretty important to a lot of clubs. As we speak the ice floor is being installed at fenway park for a bruins hockey match. Our guys have a bit of work to do in the spring but thats the sports venue world we live in.
Spending a little time in the “land of down under” this week before heading to the winter meetings in Indianapolis. We have been checking in on the developments of the Australian Baseball League ( ABL) sites and fields.
A ball game was being played at a small ballpark on the outskirts of Melbourne in Latrobe. It was pretty cool seeing about 3000
people sitting around a ballpark in arm chairs watching a minor level league baseball game. There is no permanent seating at the ballpark so everyone brings there own seats. MLB has injected a few typical minor league game gimmicks such as the dizzy bat spin, Frisbees in the stadium, inflatables, etc… They played the “charge” song and not one person said a word. (Guess that’s an American thing.) The 5th inning drag was in the 7th an since the “take me out to the ball game) song was not there they played AC/ DC instead. Having traveled to Australia a few times and I have fully realized that even though they speak english like Americans…they have a very different culture towards sports and life, in a good way! The game attendance was good indicator that the league is progressing well in its infancy.
It’s been quite the whirlwind tour thus far as we had a chance to see the Show grounds at Homebush where the main baseball venue was located during the 2000 Sydney Olympics. The “show grounds” are currently used for a cattle show during March and April and outside of that… they play a little Ausie rules footy on the surface. Not much left at the venue that tells anyone it was an Olympic venue except a VERY small plaque inside the gates. The legacy of the Sydney Olympic Baseball venues moved to Blacktown which is about 30 minutes outside of town. We stopped by there briefly and I hoped to catch Matty Carnes but we missed him. That venue is also being used for the ABL. It was looking pretty tired during this trip but that’s expected when you have a ton of use on the field. The cooch grass was also coming out of winter. At least there are some remnants of the 2000 Olympic team.
So for the record the last 4 main baseball stadiums used in the Olympics have either been torn down or turned into a venue for other uses instead of baseball. Kind of a sad statement but unfortunately true. The main baseball stadiums at Atlanta Fulton County, Sydney, Athens, Beijing…GONE!
In Melbourne today to see a ABL venues then up to Brisbane to check out another ABL site. Weather has been pretty nice and as usual the people great. Some of the soil profiles we have seen of the cooch grass have been really nice. There are a lot of cricket pitches in Australia there for they understand the need for high level maintenance for pitchers and batters. Maintaining the wicket of a cricket field is similar to how we maintain pitching mounds. The balance between moisture levels is critical to ensuring proper ball bounce.
The profile of the soil and turf in this photo show the difference in soils you may see on a cricket pitch