This past Thursday MLB Hosted its First Field maintenance Clinic in Culiacan Mexico for the mexican winter clubs. The event was Sponsored by Diamond Pro products. With a turn out of 30+ Chad Olsen and Josh Marden Brickman Sportsturf Sportsturf Managers went over the basics of field maintenance throughout the day. Culiacan is home of the Tometaros or “‘Tomato Growers” . Thanks for attending the event.
As mentioned in an earlier post we have a great turf team put together to make this project as successful as it can be. Thanks Steve, Peter, Norm and Jim.
On a recent trip to south america I came across a few interesting things that drove me to snap a few photos. One is the sign above. It is literally the way Major is sometimes pronounced in many latin countries. The other was the use of linoleum as a tarp cover. Not that it was the best but it was what they had available and how they made use of it. Never thought about linoleum that way but I guess it is water proof on one side and its heavy and lays flat. I cant help but to think of my moms kitchen but nevertheless I have to give it to our south american turf managers for being resourceful. It’s much better than leaving it uncovered!
The National Mall is planning a much-needed renovation of a few of the 30+ panels this year and the first phase is slated to begin late this summer. www.nationalmall.org/nationalmall.php What a great project and something ( Brickman‘s Sportsturf team) is excited to be a part of as the official turf consultant for the “Trust for the National Mall“. Over 20 million people see the Mall every year. The parks service issues around 3000 permits for multiple functions and one of the main complaints from people is how it always looks. Trying to compare this venue to anything else in the world is really difficult so we looked at every park and various large sports complex operations that appeared similar. Keeping grass growing is tough in this transistion zone area …. much less trying to keep it green with millions of people walking on it. It’s a 3 pronged approach which includes renovating the lawn with better soils , drainage. and an irrigation system, managing the events a little differently and updating the maintenance operations. The National Parks Service does an unbelievable job taking care of the mall with the resources they have. With budget cuts and more people wanting to use the Mall it really is amazing what they achieve with so little.
Sometimes when I talk to people about the “Mall” in DC they really think I am talking about a shopping center. Then I tell them its America’s front lawn and ….I get the AHA moment .
There is a slate of turf folks involved in some capacity with this renovation including Dr. Peter Landshoot-Penn State, Dr Norm Hummel , Dr Mike Goatley- Virginia Tech Turfgrass - Mike and his folks are working on a study regarding turf protective coverings for events. Steve LeGros is helping with the fertility planning, etc… All great turf people.
The renovation will involve removing existing soils, amending them, adding drains and new irrigation and installing a few cisterns – Each are 150’ x 34’ wide x 10’tall. 250,000 gallons each and there are 2 in the 1st phase. Completely irrigated turf areas with an automatic system and a full underdrainage system that will assist in collecting the rain water to fill the cisterns . Seed selection was fun - After a full review of local seed varieties Peter and Steve narrowed down a 4 way blend of grass seed that everyone agreed on. 30% Wolfpack 2 Tall fescue, 30% Firenza Tall fescue, 30% Turbo Tall fescue and 10% P-105 Kentucky Bluegrass HOK is the Architect of record.
More to come as this project develops.
Over 80% of the game of baseball is played on the infield, which is why the infield clay is one of the most important components of the field.
Recently, I have received a couple of emails asking the question, What is the infield clay really made of? In layman terms, it is composed of three materials. Sand, clay and silt. The tougher question is what are the percentages of the content of each material, and the particle size of the sand. The composition is the true science of the infield clay even though the daily maintenance performed on these fields at a higher level is sometimes considered more of an “art”. Most companies that provide ball diamond mix state they have a something like a 60%-70% sand ….20%to 30% clay and 10% to 20% silt. Most infield clays and baseline clays are about 5 inches deep. Bellow that there is a level of sand and pea gravel on the big league fields.
As a general rule of thumb this distribution makes sense, but the key factor is the sand particle size which comes in numerous variations from “gravel” to “very very fine”, Angular and round and so on. Separate tests are performed on the infield clay mixture to determine the sizes and distributions of materials as well as the percolation rates which give you an idea on how it may drain or dry out. Normally infield clays do not drain very well and are not really supposed to depending on the level of field you have. You can obtain pretty much any type of blend you want from numerous clay companies. The geographic location and your budget will drive your selection to the material you can obtain.
When I worked for the City of West Palm Beach managing the spring training facility for the Atlanta Braves and the Montreal Expos we used a higher sand base 75% sand 15% clay 10% silt with a medium course level sand that allowed the rain to pass through the infield clay a little easier. These days I use a more stable clay with a analysis of 40% clay 50% sand and 10-20 silt. This is a real heavy mix but can take a ton of abuse. Where you live and how much the field is used also drives the decision on the type of infield clay you may have.
Everyone that has been to a professional game notices the time the crew takes on dragging and watering the infield clay before the game. The key to a good infield and making it a great one is how you manage the moisture level in the clay. Kind of like the Goldilocks & the three bears nursery rhyme ” not to hot, not to cold, etc…your infield clay needs to hold the right amount of moisture to not be to soft, to dry, to hard or to moist. Companies now manufacture a material which is known in the industry as a soil conditioner. It is applied to the top of the infield to help control moisture. These materials are sometimes called, “Diamond Pro” , “Turface”, “Terra green” , “Pros Choice” etc…they are basically a calcined clay heated to a very high temperature and sized and colored to your liking.
Maintaining the infield’s moisture level requires consistent monitoring and maintenance. Coaches and players are continually giving you feedback on the condition of the infield helping you determine where you need to be with the moisture and maintenance methods used. Based on the weather, climate, time of year and even the team that is on the field, your maintenance of the clay could change a little on any given day. Its one of the most unknown interactions in professional sports. That’s why they sometimes call the groundskeeper the 10th man on the team!