Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

MLB Field & Venue Maintenance Clinic in Dominican Republic



field clinic group.JPGMLB’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.  

field clinic M.JPGThe 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. 


IMG-20110307-00371.jpgHats 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. 

Baseball Travels – Pan American Stadium, Estadio Barranquilla and Field Cinics


Just a little update on recent site visits and future plans.  


barranquilla.JPGColumbia -
  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. 


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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. 


JOHNDEERE.JPGField 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!

How to make those Fancy Stripes in the Grass!


Mow crew.JPGOk so this isnt the best mower stripping equipment!  Having fancy mowers is nice and stripping your lawn like the Pros can be accomplished by brushing your grass.   Those beautiful shades of green stripes on the fields you see at sporting events are not painted on!    (Actually, I have been asked this question by a few readers over the years).

First, Its not as hard as it looks to put those stripes in your yard..even a 7 year old can do it (under a parental eye) and I was a witness too that particular youth event as it was my son that put them in our yard many years ago with his bubble mower.
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The stripes are actually made by rolling or bending the grass in opposite directions.  In pro parks they use a vertical reel type mower.   Its all about the equipment …NOT THE PAINT! Some big league parks have developed some very special designs over the years like Cal Ripkens #8 in the field when he retired and Dave Mellor’s beautiful “Red Sock”designs at his field in Boston.  There are even parks that mow the grass in one direction to show “no stripes”.   The Skyline at Shea a few years back was nice as well.

There is a myth that the grass bending could effect the ball…again that is a myth as long as the groundskeeper changes the pattern every few weeks it will not effect the ball roll.   More importantly the bermuda grass tends to cause more snaking of the ball. You should try to mow the grass in the direction the ball is rolling to the outfielder.
Thumbnail image for york field.JPGFor years,  in order for the homeowner to put those cool stripes in there lawn , they had to purchase an expensive walk behind reel mower.  Your standard rotary mower can’t really perform this function because it requires a roller or some type of vertical movement to push or brush the grass in one direction.  This brushing and rolling is alternated as you travel back and forth on the grass.   That’s it! 

Recently,  I have noticed a few companies beginning to sell striping attachments that you can put on your existing mowers. Dscn1196 In fact the large commercial “Z mowers” ( the mowers you see zipping around..you know the one.. the guy uses two handles to maneuver it instead of a steering wheel) Some of  Those units now have a striping kit that can be attached to the mower.   If you look behind the mowing deck and in front of the wheel on the mower photo, you can see the attachment on this EX-mark mower that TORO distributes. 

Before going out and buying something to stripe your field or lawn you need to know what type of grass  you have because it may affect the ability to stripe the grass. 

Dscn1197The Northern grasses such as Bluegrass and fescues always stripe very well.  Also dormant Bermuda grass…. over seeded with rye type grass seed in the south does a great job. Where you may have some trouble is striping bermuda type turfs in the summers.  Its possible but these grasses need to be mowed in various directions or they tend to “grain” which will cause the ball to roll funny on the field.   

I actually had a small stripping mower at my yard a couple years back before the heat wave caused the county to impose water restrictions.   McLean and National Mower companies actually sell striping mowers.  I would also look for the striping  attachment as an option for your brand of mower. 

Its time to get those mowers out and ready for spring!

President’s Day, Baseball & Spring!


 


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Presidential Lawn Mowers?

Did you know George Washington was a highly skilled farmer and gardening enthusiast?  He was very involved with his property’s landscape planning at his home in Mount Vernon.  He managed a vegetable garden and numerous fruit trees.  You can actually head over in the spring and they still harvest from the garden.  According to a couple articles I read over the years, he even grew hemp in his garden back in the day…for medicinal purposes only I am sure.   I  wondered how they started mowing the lawn at the white house.  I guess Woodrow Wilson brought in some sheep to offset some maintenance expenses as the photo depicts above.  That would have been around 1910.  Before that they used hand sickles or scythes.

By now the true sense of “baseball spring training”  is in full swing and all the pitchers, catchers and positions players are beginning that ritual of planning for the upcoming season.  Tomorrow, February 22, not only means baseball season is just around the corner it’s also a federal holiday  to celebrate our countries First President George Washington’s Birthday.   It kind of picked up the Presidents day tab sometime in the 80’s  as people threw Lincolns Birthday in there as well.  Here in the state of Virginia where GW was born, the holiday is legally known as “George Washington Day”   Ironically other states have included their Presidents with GW.   Alabama celebrates Washington / Jefferson Day even though his birthday isn’t until  April. 


witehouselawn.jpg
IMG_1099.JPGWhats cool is that GW’s birthday and spring are linked together with our countries favorite pastime sport…baseball!   Notice the similar stripping patterns in the turf photos above!

Happy Birthday George!

 

 

Choosing the Right Grass for your Baseball Field


Thumbnail image for target field looking good.JPGThere are numerous types of grass that is used to cover our baseball and softball fields.

Blue grass, Bermuda grass, Zoysia, Buffalo, Rye grass, bent grass, Tifsport, 419, St Augustine, Bahia, 318, k-31, Limousine, U-3, Tifway, Fescue, Creeping red etc…  I could go on for days…Which one of these is not a real grass?   U-3 is what you call three grasses in your yard and you don’t know what they are!

Breaking it down to the basics:  Grass selection is based on Cool Season and Warm Season grasses and the mysterious transition zone. Every country has different grass growing zones but they all are defined by cool and warm season grasses.   Cool season grasses is what you have in your lawn from about the Maryland/Pennsylvania border north and warm season grasses start in Virginia and go south South. The transition line varies across the states. There are pockets in Virginia, Maryland, Texas and even Utah that you can grow both types…which explains the “transition zone”.  Picking your grass should begin with the zone you are in.

From that point you can get really creative with 1000’s of varieties of grasses.  The bottom line…keep it simple.  Don’t go crazy with a bunch of different seed choices in your lawn.  That could lead to a  fungus problems.  2 or 3 varieties different is OK but more than that is probably not necessary.

Here are some fun grass facts you can throw at the neighbor while you are out shopping for seed at the seed stores!

FACT- The first white house lawnmower. George Washington and Jefferson used sheep to keep the lawn under control!

FACT- “There are over 200 varieties of of tall type fescues in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware.  The type everyone knows about in the store and one of the first types…was K-31.

FACT- The grass seed state in the US is in Oregon with sales over 300+ million per year.

FACT- In the 1800’s golf courses in the UK were infected with a pests called ….. Earth worms!  This resulted in some of the great courses in Scotland developing along the seashores. Worms do not care for the salty/sandy soils.  In the US, night crawlers are actually good for the earth!

FACT – Next time your significant other asks you if you are going to the mall and you want to work in the yard say:

“And let the earth bring forth grass..and the earth brought forth grass” Genesis 1:11-12

FACT- First lawnmower. invented by Edwin Budding in the early 19Th century. In 1870, Elwood McGuire designed a mower that made a big impact on the homeowner. By 1885, the USA was building 50,000 push mowers a year and shipping them everywhere.

FACT- A survey in 1994 listed 43 million acres of turf in the US.

FACT- The cooling power of grass!  8 average front lawns have the cooling power of 70 tons of air conditioning. (The average home has a 3 to 4 ton central unit)

FACT- Fresh Air… a 50×50 square pieces of grass generates enough oxygen for a family of four.  As mother natures filter it absorbs carbon monoxide, nitrates and hydrogen fluoride and releases oxygen.

FACT- Last one – A test was conducted by dropping 12 eggs onto a dense small piece of natural grass from 11 feet. NONE BROKE!  On a thin turf piece 8 broke…. and all 12 broke when dropped from 18 inches onto a rubberized track. 

Have fun!!

Building a Baseball Infield


infield watered.jpgTechnically, the term infield skin refers to segments of the baseball field that contain clay, specifically the areas around the bases and base paths. The keys to quality infield skin are good materials, proper moisture and consistent maintenance practices. With 70 percent of the game played on the infield, having a consistently firm, smooth playing surface is essential.

Infield construction

Infield mixes are made from various combination’s and percentages of sand, silt and clay. People consider the general standard for an OK infield to be 60 to 70 percent sand, 30 percent clay and 10 percent silt. Particle size also makes a big difference in these materials. Infields vary greatly by regional conditions, commercially available mixes and the preferences of the sports field manager and their facility and teams.

The nail drag scarifies the surface and digs deeper to further loosen the infield mix. With any drag, be careful not to drag too close to the turf edge.
Annual laser-grading is used to check the infield slope and correct any inconsistency.

The weight of the infield mix is in the clay and the silt and that’s what retains the moisture. You may be in an area with a lot of rain, and if you don’t have much maintenance help for tarping you’ll want to have a bit sandier infield mix. If you have a heavily used field or one for university or professional play, you’ll probably want a more stable infield with a heavier mix containing more clay and silt to withstand the wear and tear of multiple events. For some infield mixes with lesser percentages of silt and clay, a conditioning amendment of calcined or vitrified clay is worked into the top 1 to 2 inches of the mix to help bind the clay and stabilize the infield.

When constructing a new field or rebuilding an existing one, the general depth of the infield material for the baselines is approximately 5 inches. The depth, the type of material used and the subbase components are subject to budgetary constraints. There are fields with the infield mix placed directly on the subbase soil, some on a sand layer over the subbase soil, some directly on a pea gravel layer and some on geo cloth covering any of these subbases.

Opinions differ on whether a geo cloth layer will be detrimental to drainage. While drainage within the infield mix will vary according to the percentages of clay and silt, it is generally slow, so many prefer the geo layer for other advantages. It can keep pea gravel from migrating up into the infield mix and bordering grassed areas. Geo cloth on the pea gravel does keep the infield mix from sifting into the gravel, reducing the need for continual addition of the mix during the first few years of construction and helping stabilize the surface more quickly.

To counteract slow drainage within the infield mix, many fields are constructed with a slope to help move the surface water off the clay and into the grass. A slope of about .5 percent, extending from the edge of the pitcher’s mound out past the 95 arc should provide sufficient water movement for most fields. Some skinned baseball infields and some softball fields are constructed with a greater percentage of slope.

It’s critical to achieve consistency of slope across the entire surface. Use laser-grading equipment and a skilled operator. Otherwise, once all the material is in place, run string lines from the infield grass to the outfield grass across the infield and work your way across the field with shovels and rakes. Keep moving the string lines every 1 to 2 feet, and check and recheck for accuracy as you move.

Managing moisture

An in-ground irrigation system with a zone that only waters the infield clay is one way to deliver volumes of water quickly. When water patterns are diverted in windy conditions, hand-watering will be required to reach the places missed.

Quick-connect outlets behind the mound and behind home plate provide access to hook up a water hose. Some field managers place quick couplers at the infield corners behind first and third base in the grass. A 1-inch hose is preferred to deliver a larger volume of water faster. A retractable hose reel installed in the ground behind the mound makes pull out and rollback easier and eliminates hauling the hose out and back for each watering.

Select hoses and hand-nozzle sizes based on the number of fields you need to maintain and the size of your crew. Ideally, your nozzle selection should be able to apply enough water to reach the desired depth for the initial soaking and to lightly mist repeatedly to maintain the desired moisture level. Some infields drain so well that you can “puddle” the infield after a night game and it will be perfect for play by morning.

When necessary, crews can level the infield skin using a string line and hand-held tools and hand-pulled drags.

Top it off

Using the different calcined or vitrified clay amendments as the top surface coat can make it a little easier to manage the skin moisture levels and achieve consistency. You don’t want the players to pick up wet clay on their spikes or have the infield get too dry during the pregame workouts. With a topping of 1/8 to .25-inch, you can soak the infield as you would normally and have a good surface for workouts and sufficient moisture retention for the game. Consistency of depth is extremely important during the initial application of the top layer both for accuracy of the slope and footing for the players. Once in place, use a cocoa mat or the back of a fan rake so you’re just lightly smoothing the top surface and not moving piles of material.

Dry down

An infield tarp is an important tool in moisture management. No one likes to use it, but covering the infield when you have rain issues can be the quickest and easiest way to preserve playability.

Edging the infield as a weekly maintenance practice will reduce lips and keep turf edges smooth. This Turfco Edge-R-Rite was used in 2004 during the Olympics. Along with edging the bermudagrass, it doubled as a small sod cutter.
Rolling infields is an important practice to stabilize the areas.

The worst thing you can do following a heavy rain on an uncovered field is to work the field too early. Let the sun do its work on the dry down before you get out there to squeegee, rake and dig. The dryer subsurface material will try to draw down the moisture from an undisturbed wet surface. If you must work existing or added material to dry down the surface, use a roller squeegee rather than a rake to spread the water so you’re not cutting into the wet material and disrupting that downward movement.

If you have depressions with standing water, fill them with calcined clay and let it soak up the moisture for 15 to 20 minutes. Then, spread out that moist material to dry further, or borrow a technique from ground crews in South America to remove excess water with no surface penetration. They use a supply of 12-by-24-inch foam-rubber sponges (old padding) and place one in an area of standing water, step down on it, allow it to absorb water to capacity, pick it up, wring it out and use it again.

Another technique to combat light rain or drizzle, and to use between innings when the dirt is starting to look shiny, is to apply a very thin layer of conditioner using a regular walk-behind or hand-held spreader set for the largest opening. You’ll get a more consistent layer than pouring conditioner from the bag or putting out piles to spread.

Working the dirt

The right equipment used properly is critical in maintaining the infield skin. You’ll want a series of different types of drag mats, rigid and flexible steel mats for breaking up dirt clods and leveling, and cocoa mats for finishing the surface. You’ll need both a fine nail and heavy nail drag for scarifying the surface and digging deeper to further loosen the mix and allow better moisture penetration. You’ll need rakes, brooms, edgers and rollers. The 1 or 2-ton roller will become your favorite tool.

The three-wheel field rakes produced by the major equipment suppliers do an excellent job, and they come with an assortment of attachments, as well as connection points for other implements. You also can use a small tractor, lawn mower, utility vehicle or golf cart to pull the drags.

We bored into the infield to check soil conditions and discovered a layering of different clays. We had to rototill to remove the barriers so the clays would not “plate” when the players took the field.

Always pull the bases and insert the plugs so you can drag the entire infield. Pay close attention to the wear areas around and in front of the bases, such as where the first baseman plants his foot. Consider incorporating a heavier clay mix 10 feet out from first base and also at second and third base to make it easier to reduce divoting and keep indentations from forming. Follow different routes when driving equipment onto the field to reduce compaction issues. Transport the drags to the field and drop them at different spots each day. When working the field, keep attachments, drags and screens 6 inches away from the grass at both edges of the base path to avoid lip build up. Use a variety of dragging techniques, continually altering your patterns and incorporating circular spirals and figure eights. Go slow, especially in the turns, to avoid slinging materials.

Managing Lips

To avoid creating lips when hand-raking, always rake up and down the base path, not across it. Work the grass edges with a fan rake or stiff-bristled broom after every practice, workout and game. If you don’t have the staff for that, use the water hose to blast the infield mix from the grass edges at least once a week.

You’ll want to edge the infield grass periodically, cutting away turf to remove any lip buildup, then backfill with new infield mix, tamp down firmly and test the edge. There should be no transition between the grass and the clay. If you can feel even the slightest difference with your foot, the ball can feel it when it hits, and that’s what causes a bad hop.

This article was published in sports field management magazine

Baseball Field Construction Tips


Dscn0235
Although its winter, Baseball season is closer than we think and now is the time to plan for the new ball yard!  People have been sending me
some baseball field construction questions about “How to build….the field…the mound….the infield
etc..? Ive posted a few blogs over the years about these tasks but before you get into the details lets talk about the basics.

First and foremost; Building a baseball field takes planning and unfortunately sometimes
more money than you may have in your budget. One of the first questions to ask yourself is … Do you have enough land or property and will be the field
be oriented properly?  A field is about 100,000 sq ft but when you add parking, backstops, dugouts bullpens etc.  this number creeps up to 200,000 sq ft quickly.  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 guide you towards the level of field you will need to build.

2.  What Type of Grass:  Natural…Bluegrass or Bermuda?…or synthetic?  A big push on synthetics lately have had a lot of folks going that direction but be very cautious when considering this choice as there is still extensive maintenance to the field and eventually you need to change the turf after the warranty runs out. To clarify – synthetic has its place in the sports industry  but just do your homework.

3.  How much money do we have? That’s a loaded
question but after the previous 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
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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 thats great.  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 is critical to the success of the field.

6. Should you hire a consultant for owners representation?
Unless you have a sportsturf manager in your organization that has had experience the design ad development of sports fields it may be a good idea to bring in someone to help out. 7. Should we consider asking for Sponsorships to help offset material
costs?
There are venodrs out there tat will reduce pricing of materials to land a long time agreement but they are limited due to the economic climate.

8. Can the Community help? Have you heard of the MLB’s Baseball
Tomorrow Fund?  A great place to start looking for possible grants to help you subsidize your field construction

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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.

Winter Soltice, Christmas and Clinics



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Tis the season to give thanks to everyone for getting through another challenging year.    Economic times are still playing into a lot of the decisions we make on and off the field but there is a light at the end of the tunnel and if the spending I’ve seen in the malls thus far this season are an indicator then we should be back on track this year.  

 Although a tough year it was very active with several new projects starting up as well as numerous field clinics.  I believe we did 8 clinics this year and all were very well received.  Had a great Clinic in Compton at the MLB Urban Youth Academy last week.  About 50 people attended. After wards we had a raffle and a couple of the vendors gave away some items and MLB had grab bags with T-shirts and hats etc.. You would’ve thought that the MLB grab bags would go first but it was the tools.  2 tamps and a rake were snatched up first. 

The Australian baseball league took off this year and can only improve for 2011.  Everyone be safe have a great Christmas and a happy New year

Australian League Ballparks Update



narrabundah.jpgWith the league now officially opened and the wonderful positive results Ihave heard from various sources, I really think the new league is going to only get better and better.  The ballparks are not typical pro parks you see in the states but its a start and provides us something to build on.    Kevin Moses is jumping from city to city helping the local field maintenance teams at each of the ABL clubs tweak their fields and ballparks.  Most recent opening was Narrabundah (photo above) with over 1300 people on the 17
th.  The City of Canberra is the capitol of the country and they made a nice investment to bring baseball to the area.  The local community leaders  were heavily involved in upgrading the field conditions for the beginning of the league.   As it stands the crowds have been strong and the fields are holding up at all of the ABL venues.  I believe the greatest challenge is coming up this week.   The Melbourne Aces home field at the Showgrounds completed the Equitana event yesterday and the season opens Friday.  Not much has been renovated as the grounds needed to remain unchanged for the horses.   I’m sure everything will work out,  but bottom line an entire field needs to be built this week. 

 

 

Houston Astros Urban Youth Academy Hosts 1st Field Maintenance Clinic



Hosuton Clinic photo.JPGJust finished another MLB Field Maintenance clinic.  This one was in Houston.  My first time back since I worked on the design of the field at minute maid stadium way back when it opened.  The Field Clinic was held at the Houston Astros Urban Youth Academy. A great place managed by Daryl Wade.  Super person with a passion for the program.   We had about 75 people attend.  Have to thank Chad Olsen ( our Ops Man) , Dan bergstrom Astros and Dennis Klein Rangers Head groundskeepers.  We covered quite a bit of information for this group and what made it fun was that the guys an gals that attended were really into it from 9am to 300pm.   The academy opened up  last summer and hosts a number of events.  Turface helped to sponsor the event which was free to all attendees. 

Great Job guys. Next stop is LA on December.  Last one for the year.

Europe Field Clinic and Pan American Games updates


 


Pisa and Rotterdam CLinic.JPGWhere do I start?  A whirlwind of activity work etc.  over the past few weeks has put me a bit behind on the blog. To recap in bullets –

1.       Pan American Games (World cup Qualifier) is continuing through Oct13th in Puerto Rico. We have had an unbelievable amount of rain during those games and yet they continue.  The guys (Chad Olsen, Erik, Budge, Kevin, Joe, Ryan, Chad K) have really gone above and beyond the call of duty to keep the tournament playing. $ Games a day on some fields and monsoon level rains have made playing conditions less than favorable.  Just a little wet in Ponce!

 


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Kevin Moses Won the best field award in the Atlantic League for taking care of a tough ballpark in Southern Maryland. 

3.       We have clinics rolling along in Tuscany, Italy and Rotterdam Netherlands this week.  Old STMA friends Tom Burns, Bob Curry and Rene Asprion are assisting with presentations.

4.        Planning for Australian Baseball league to start at the end of the month.

5.       Chad’s heading to Dominican Republic after the World Cup qualifier in PR.

6.       I’m heading back from Europe for a brief stay then back to South America and planning for MLB clinics in Houston and LA. 

That’s enough for now but it just goes to show you that a lot happens when it’s supposed to be the slow season.  Looking forward to december when things slow down …maybe. 

MILB Kicks off Fall Field Clinics at Durham Athletic Park


durham athletic park.jpgIt was a hot day on the beautiful patriot bermuda turf field this past friday during MILB’s Field clinic. Every one of our 50+ group attending was pretty excited about the series of clinics planned at the DAP over the next 3 months. We focused on baseball field maintenance tasks during this past week’s event and the next clinic at the park on Oct 22nd will focus on turf management and cultural practices.  Chad Olsen Brickman Sportsturf, Scott Strickland from the Durham Bulls ballclub gave hands on advise to building and maintaining the mound and homeplate.  Turface’s John Southerland provided an in depth review of infield maintenance and Chad Price, with Carolina Green gave a demonstration of how to laser grade infields and why.  Good stuff all the way around.  Go to www.Durhamathleticpark@milb.com for more info.

 

 

Europe’s 1st Baseball Field & Venue Maintenance Clinic Planned!


Neptunus stadium.JPGMLB , in conjunction with all the European Baseball Federations is hosting a Baseball Field and Stadium Maintenance Clinic to be held in Tirrinia, Italy and Rotterdam, Holland.   The first clinic will be at the MLB Baseball Academy Training center in Tirrenia which is just outside of Pisa on Oct 9-10.  This site is also the Central Training center for many of Italy’s Olympic teams.  The second in Rotterdam at the Neptunus Family Stadium. We have played many great tournaments in this ballpark over the years.  The clinics will cover field maintenance operations in a “hands on” format that will include areas of the field such as mounds, homeplates, infield clay, grass, etc…. and will also cover ballpark safety standards and operational areas related to field lighting, padding, field equipment etc..

tirrineia field.JPGHeading along with me to help present the topics will be Tom Burns with Diamond Pro TXI.  Tom is the former head groundskeeper for the Texas Rangers. Tom and I go way back to the 80’s when we worked in Florida at Spring training sites.  Also Bob Curry from Covermaster will be joining us to talk about field protection systems, field covers and wallpadding.  Rick Sneed from Musco will discuss field lighting systems and general standards for lighting fields related to baseball. 

Prior to the 2009 Baseball World Cup many european countries invested millions into their facilities. These clinics are designed to provide resources and education in an effort to preserve their investment and to help many club teams improve their playing surface. This clinic is open to anyone and everyone that has a baseball or softball field.  It will be great time to meet your peers throughout europe.

Hope to see you there!  Contact Megan.mcnamara@MLBI.co.uk for further information!   

Plan Your Home Lawn Renovation NOW!


 

front_yard_photo_1.jpg Every year the fall brings you good things.  Along with the fall baseball classic it lets you revive your home lawn time before winter.  In an effort to keep it simple stupid (the KISS principle) you should plan your renovation according to your geographical area.  Different grasses + different climates = different turf programs.  Northern grasses are fescues and bluegrasses while southern grasses are bermudas, St Augstine, bahia and then you have transition grasses.  This is the tough one because you can have overseeded bermudas and zoysias.

Bottom line, a little work this fall can improve your lawn for the spring.  Here is a list of projects you may consider for your lawn.

1.  Get a soil sample and have it tested by your local extension office.  This sounds tough but its as simple as it sounds. Every county has an extension agent that can send you in the right direction.  You will get your turf’s PH tested and also see what your lawn is missing as it relates to nutrients. Go to a couple spots in your yard to collect soil Put the  sample of soil and root mass goes into a quart sized zip lock bag.  . This test takes about 10 days…

2.  The report will give you the specifics of materials to purchase and at what rate to apply the materials. Some even give you the exact brand. 

3.  Dethatch your lawn. Bluegrass and fescue lawns build thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass between the ground and where before the blade turns green. Average thatch is around 1/2 inch thick. If its thicker than 1/2inch rent a de-thatcher and rake up the thatch layer debris.

4.  Lawns hardly ever receive aerification. If you noticed during the dry summer months that your lawn turned brown faster than others?  Probably means you have a lawn that needs aerification so the roots can grow deeper.   This is a process of plugging holes in your yard with a machine…. (they used to use shoes for plugging lawns years ago… they had long nails on them) The process of renting a machine could get expensive depending on how big your yard is but nevertheless it will improve the root growth and relieve compaction of the soil.Cuba_plug_picking_1

5.  Seed your lawn at a half rate in the fall.  Some people ask why you would seed before the winter because the seed will not germinate.  That is not entirely true because bluegrass, fescues and rye enjoy cool temperatures and you will be surprised at what comes up in the spring. In the northeast you should be planning to seed next month.  Broadcast your seed after the aerfication and de-thatching. 

6. Time to fertilize.  The soil test will give you a some direction of types of fertlizer but more importantly don’t apply a pre emergence herbicide to your lawn if you overseeded.  Nothing will germinate.  If your lawn is healthy and you are not overseeding…. then put out a granular pre-emergence in the fall with your fertilizer application. This will help control broadleaf and grassy weeds in the spring.  If you didn’t obtain a soil test, play it safe and Fertilize with a well rounded N-P-K product with micro nutrients per manufacturers suggested rates.  

7. Irrigate or water your lawn for a couple days after the renovation is completed to wash the seed and fertilize next to the soil for good contact.

8.  Patch any areas that require sod or new grass in the fall as well and once the seed starts to grow try and keep off the grass as much as possible.

That should get you started for a healthy turf in 2011!  Good Luck  keep_off_the_grass.jpg

Baseball in Venezuela is more than a Sport



caracas7ij8.jpgTraveling to Venezuela has always been one of those interesting events.  Never the same and always seeing things I probably wouldn’t have anywhere else in the world.  The people in this country have a passion for baseball and team rivalry is clearly defined.   On this trip I had to check out ballparks in Maracaibo, Puerto la Cruz and Margarita Island and instead of driving I flew with Jimmy M, Alvaro S. who is MLB’s RSA in Venezuela. As former Interpol chief of the island he knows practically everyone in the country and if he doesn’t, he will soon know you because he has a wonderful gift of being kind.  Nevertheless the ballparks varied in need of work and improvements.  In Maracaibo the stadium is old and needs some TLC.  They have only 6 weeks before  winter league play.   Margarita Island P8241150.JPGwas pretty cool. Reminded me of Barcelona.  Neat ballpark with some upgrades since they recently hosted the 2009 Caribbean World Series.  Final stop was Puerto La Cruz which was completely under construction.  They are installing the first synthetic turf on the island and upgrading the faade of the park.   http://www.caribesbbc.com.ve/

At each airport we had to pay a exit tax. Normally something like 5 bucks.  Not a big deal but always after you pay for the ticket.   On the day I left from Caracas to head home I was approached by a Venezuelan policeman who asked if I needed some help. I stated no I was just going to pay my exit tax.  He stated he would handle it since they only take Bolivars and I could just pay him the 50 bucks. That’s when a red light went off because last time I paid the exit tax in cascaras it was 38 dollars and they took US
P8251194.JPGcurrency.  I kindly declined the officer’s scam.  Interesting city Caracas.  Unfortunately it just topped the charts as the city with eh Worlds Highest Murder rate.  7676 in 2009. That’s about 1 murder every hour and half.      I can say that I was around the people in all of the cities and never felt like I was in danger.    Of course I did have Alvaro with me!    Chad Olsen spent the week in Mexico so I am sure he has a story or two.    Heading to Europe next week.  Probably a little less crazy…Hard to believe that there are only 6 weeks before the winter league starts.  

Busy week for International Baseball


2010 womens USA team.jpgThis past week was an interesting one for Interantional Baseball Competition.  The  USA Womens World Cup Basbeall team in Vz. . First off…. Congrats on coming in as Bronze winners.  Japan took the Gold medal with Australia rolling in with the silver.  Earlier in the week the tournament was marred by a shooting at the field where the Hong Kong team  2nd baseman was struck in the leg.   The tournament was moved to Maracay, VZ which then went on without a hitch.    P6101202.JPGGlad the girls are heading home safely.  The stadium in Maracay has improved over the past few years and the field had addtional drainage installed less than a month ago.   In the states…Team Mexico beat Ocala in Cal Ripken’s Championship up in Abderdeen.    

Heading down to Maragarita Island and Puerto La Cruz over the next couple days to check out a few ballparks before the Winter league season. 

Taiwan Field Maintenance Clinic


P8021097.JPGDuring the past few days Chad Olsen and I have been holding clinics for the CTBA in an effort to improve field of play conditons on many of the baseball fields around the country.  I want to thank the CTBA for hosting these events and helping them be so successful. Tianmu Stadium is a really cool ballpark.  It’s really over used and the guys who take care of it (Randy and Quan) do a good job with what they have to work with.  More like..the time they
P8031107.JPG have to work with.  This field is used daily 3 and 4 times a day by different clubs and ages.  Its great to see so many kids playing sports, but at the same time sad to see the field get no rest or time for simple maintenance needs.  It was a fun clinic because the Taiwan people are so nice and yearn for baseball knowledge.   

Young Taiwan GroundCrew makes it happen!




kids marking home.jpg
kids watering 1st base.jpgJust outside of Tainan City, Taiwan there is a special little field maintained by some very special little people.  I would have to say this might be the youngest groundcrew I have ever seen.  Each with a job and task to prepare the field for the game.  What a sight to see kids doing the work of adults and having fun doing it.
kids measuring to mound.jpg 
This type of culture being implemented into children’s minds at such an early age  is remarkable.  My hat is off to Li Chang who shared this amazing story and photos of what they are doing at this little league field. Hopefully the tips we have shown him will help make this a better program. They have developed a maintenance program for the kids to follow.  I would have to say this would infield watered.jpgprobably never be seen in the USA,  
but who knows. 

If you make things fun,  kids will do it and To these guys it’s a fun task.   I like how they water the dirt and the “shape” of the field is actually made with water.  Very creative! !   This is truly Inspirational for all of us in the sportsturf industry. What if we could get all of our neighborhoods to do this!

Baseball in Columbia


bogota.jpgMet this past week in Bogota Columbia with US Ambassador Bill Brownfield and several local Columbian and MLB folks regarding the game of baseball .  Having seen a few ballparks in the country several years back it was nice to share opinion on developments opportunnities.  The Renteria’s had us down about 4 years ago to see the ballparks in Cartegena, Barranquillia, Monteria and Sincelejo.  The Cities all have baseball stadiums and the goal is to make them better from the field to the seats.    Driving around the city of Bogota is beautiful.  Considering the elevation was over 9000ft in a few areas it would be pretty interesting to see a Pro game played in this city.  One would think
bogota helos show.jpgthat Bogota may be one of  the highest points where baseball is played. Hitters would be going crazy.

On the way back,  I experienced (another flight delay) and this one at least was verifiable.  We had actually boarded the plane and had pushed back when the pilot came on the PA an said that we would need to return to the terminal because the government had shut down the airport for a Military Air Show which was part of the countries independence celebration.  Only 3 hour delay.  That was a first!  

Belated Thanks to the Groundcrew in San Juan


the crew.JPGJust getting off the road for an extended trip here and there.  Summer has really been busy for sportsturf.  Nevertheless I wanted to thank the guys from San Juan for the great job they did in San Juan during the Mets vs. Marlins Series.  We went in thinking it was going to be pretty easy but soon found out we had more to do than ever. 
eric building the mound.JPGAll in all we got it done…even though the turf hit temps of 150!   Brickman’s Chad Olsen and Eric Ogden led the charge along with Virginia Tech’s Chad Kropff and Budgie Clark.  The San Juan crew was sprinkled with several new faces but they were awesome as usual. 

We had a few scares with mother nature which included a rain delayed Weds night game but we were able to get it in. We played from June to July! 

 

hanging from stadium doing the bees.JPGAlso had a run in with the bees at the stadium.  A nest just above the seating bowl had grown to a huge hive. The guys said they collected 4 gallons of honey from the nest. 

 

 

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