Just finished up a tour of a few ballparks in Panama that are being considered for the 2011 Winter League Season as well as the 2011 Baseball World Cup. This was my first trip back to Panama since the 2003 pre-Olympic Qualifier which did not end up the way team USA hoped but we did send a good country representing our region to Athens which was Canada. I clearly recall these games and how much it rained in September and October. Daily heavy rain that covered the field with 3 and 4inches of water…every day.
Anyway on this trip we didn’t have rain. It was beautiful weather and since several of the ballparks were rather far apart and our time was limited the President of Panama allowed us to use his Helicopter and plane for our entourage. Landing and taking off in the outfield of each park was quiet an experience. I was hoping we didn’t cause any damage to the fields and if so it was a minimum. First Stop was a stadium in the city of David located on the Pacific side of the country called Kenny Serracin. It’s an hour chopper flight and about a 5 hr drive from Panama City. An old park with a lot of charm that needs some TLC. It has potential and the people are really behind making the improvements. The second stadium was Omar Torrijos Stadium in Santiago. A newer stadium with more amenities and overall nice site lines. The 3rd stop was Rico Cedeno stadium in The City of Chitre. Nice turf needed some lip maintenance and some upgrades. Our 4th stadium was in Remon Cantera in the city Aguadulce and on our final stop in Panama we ended with the gem of Panama the Nacional Stadium called Rodney Carew Stadium.
Our hosts were tremendous from the government officials to Ruben , Lauren, Guy, Ramon, Raul, and Tito the congressman. This tournament is one the heels of the Pan American games that will be helped in Lagos de Moreno, Mexico. Yes it’s going to be a very busy, busy fall. Panama City…WOW . It has changed so much since 2003. Truly unbelievable. Also thanks to our hosts for taking us to the Panama Canal. When I was their last time we were stuck at the park everyday for a month and couldn’t get over to see it. Another great landmark that hasn’t changed much since 1913.
MLB’s Field & Venue Maintenance clinic was held today at the Yankees Training academy in the Dominican Republic. We had over 60 participants representing all 30 MLB clubs in attendance plus Sports turf managers from all of the winter League Clubs. This being our 3rd clinic in the DR, I can clearly see the great improvements that are taking place in the fields as well as the expanding knowledge base of sound maintenance practices from each of the clubs grounds staff.
The Yankees training complex has for regulation fields, and dormitories for over 100 players. It is as nice as your typical spring training complex in the states. The growth of these high level training centers is exploding throughout the DR and with it comes opportunity for a lot of people in the groundskeeping industry.
Hats off to Joel Araujo, the MLB Dominican League office and Chad Olsen for helping make this another wonderful educational session for our turf friends in the Dominican republic and a special thanks to the guys at Diamond Pro for sponsoring this event.
Just a little update on recent site visits and future plans.
Columbia – A couple weeks ago I spent some time in Barranquilla talking with the Mayor and his constituents about a stadium they are planning to build in the near future. We are rolling forward with helping design and development a new ballpark. Jimmy Char , Federation President is also having us help with developing a youth baseball complex. Great people in Colombia and the improvements to the City infrastructure sing I was there 5 years ago was amazing. Still a way to go but roads and better housing for residents was greatly improved.
Lagos de Moreno – A city outside of Guadalajara, Mexico will be hosting the 2011 Pan Baseball Games. We met with the folks in the city Lagos de Moreno and talked about their new ballpark which was opened a couple years ago. Needs a few tweaks before the event next fall but it’s great to see a new ballpark built in Mexico. Checked out quite a few ballparks in the city for potential use during the tournament but even those will need some work. I’m sure we will be assisting them with the improvements through the next several months. Teams playing in this tournament will be able to use pro players.
Field Clinics – Heading to the Santo Domingo next week to begin the series 2011 series of our international venue and field maintenance clinics. First stop is the Yankees training center near Santo Domingo. From there we head over to Puerto Rico and Venezuela then back to Mexico before heading over the pond later this year. It’s going to be an active year an I am sure I will be reaching out for some help to the guys in the industry.
National Mall – Over the past couple weeks found out I was dubbed “Official Turf Consultant to the National Mall & Memorial Parks by the National Trust” . This is a credit to the Brickman Sportsturf team and the company. Great job guys! Finally a local project and one that I am really excited to be involved with because after all … it is our countries front lawn!