Archive for the ‘ Dailies ’ Category

San Juan is heating up for Mets vs. Marlins Series

temps at bithorn.jpgDuring the summer it can get pretty hot in San Juan.  The field being synthetic can build heat pretty quickly.  Todays temperatures on the grass surface teetered around 150 degrees when the sun came out and when a cloud passed,  the temps dropped rapidly to 110-120. Nevertheless it was crazy hot. 

sanjuan logo.jpgOn a positive note.. the heat from the field helped dry the logos a lot quicker. Probably one of the larger logos we have put on the field with a dominating black background.  Pretty cool ( the logo not the weather) .   Its going to be a fun series with the Mets and Marlins this week. Stay tuned.

Developing Baseball in San Salvador

joel shows them the sites.JPGSan Salvador –  We evaluated a ballpark ( Estadio Jorge Elias Bahaia)  in San Salvador which is the capital of …El Salvador.   There is a group called (FESA) Fundacion Educado a un Salvadoreno that operates a school and a community sports development program.  El Salvadore has recently produced quite a few players that are in the minor leagues.  One prospect with the Seattle Mariners is Erasmo Ramirez.  He was 11-4 at fort wyane in 2009.

kids in left field.JPGThe field we looked in on is under a bit of stress from extensive use,  which is a good thing if your trying to grow your youth development programs, but not so good for the field.   It’s a small regulation diamond with 280ftdown the lines. What sets this ballpark apart from others is not only the use it gets by  teenagers but the used it recieves by the little guys in both foul pole corners.    Just a ton of activity for a little over 80000sq.ft.!  Hopefully we can come up with some options to make the field better for everyone involved.   While checking out the field , I ran across an “OLD SCHOOL” aerifier. 

spiker.JPGEl Salvador is a pretty cool country these days. US dollars is the currency. The landscape is covered with mountains and old volcanos..some look like they could still create some havoc but the locals say they are dead.  There is some great surfing along this particular surf line of central america . You need to check out the Tortuga Surf lodge outside of San Salvador. in El Tunco..if I only had a couple more days!  


Venezuelan Stadiums, fields…and roads!

bleacher signs.JPGOver the past few days we Took a look at a few ballparks in Venezuela .  Caracas, Barquisimeto, Maracay and Valencia.  Kind of ran out of time to see the others so a return in the near future is planned.   I was  in Venezuela in 2005 and once before that in 2001 for the Houston Astros vs., Cleveland Indians Exhibition match which was held in Valencia.  It’s great to see that since those visits, the fields have continually improved.   

P6081024.JPGCaracas has a stadium that is home to a couple clubs.   The Aguilles and the lenoes.  The Leones is the team Armando Gallaraga plays for during the winter.  Quite a few stories about the almost no – hitter still floating around.  A 20000 seat park located in the center of the city, Caracas is a unique park because of it amount of use. 

Valencia is home to the Magallanes Baseball club.    It’s about a two hour drive from Caracas (pending traffic) I say that because the traffic returning to Caracas to catch our flight was crazy! Raining heavily even saw a mud slide(on our side fo the road)  as the region is pretty mountainous.  It took us over 4 hours that last night to get back to Caracas.  Driving the roads in Venezuela is similar to the DR except your driving on mountain roads with 100″s of trucks.  We saw numerous accidents on the road between Caracas and Valencia.  Need to thank Jimmy /Mario Andretti who did most of the driving.  He knew the roads pretty well so watching him zoom past Police cars, speed, etc…was pretty much the required method to get around.   Also Hearing the weekly President Hugo Chavez radio address was interesting as it took up about 4 hours of time on the road ..ironically blocking out any type of emergency message about the mud slide so traffic continued to clog.  However the silver lining to the roads is the price of gas. We filled the tank to our Chevy for 78 cents!  Not bad for 15 gallons of fuel.  (And we didn’t even have to pump it!)    

caracas7ij8.jpgWe actually drove from Caracas to Barquisimeto which ended up being about 5 hours.  Nice stadium with a pretty good level of Bermuda grass.    Our traveling party included MLB’s  Joel Aryjo, Jimmy and Armin who is the local RSA for MLB.  There’s a new Hilton/Embassy suites hotel being built in Valencia which will be nice when the finish it.   When we arrived it was dark in the hotel and the reason was not that it was not completed…it was because Presidente Chavez requires mandatory power reductions for all businesses.    Glad I had my flashlight!

A Baseball Thank You to our Armed Forces on Memorial Day

12000 tomb stones of fallen US soilders.JPGMemorial Day and baseball have weaved a history of both good times and sad. Today we remember those that have fallen.  Our country grew up american cemetery in Nettuno.JPGplaying baseball in many parts of the world during times of war.  Japan, Italy, Cambodia, Korea…the list goes on an on.    In 2009, Team USA won the World Cup in Nettuno, Italy. The final game against Cuba was a great show by team USA but probably the most important part of that win took place just before the club took the field to win Gold.   A brief tour was set up (instead of taking BP)  to see the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery & Memorial just up the street from the stadium on the final day of the tournament. 

team usa  compressed.JPG(If you look just above the heads of this photo you will see a statue in the back ground.  It is a statue of the “Brothers-in Arms” which symbolizes an American Soldier and Sailor.)  My Good friend Kernel Joe (who helped us out on the fields) and came up with the idea to have the team head to the cemetery instead of the ballpark and he just made it happen. After we made a few calls to the skipper and Eric it became a no brainer.   

soilders playing baseball.jpgHearing Joe talk to the players once they arrived about this Cemetery’s history is an incredible story not to mention stories of some of the soldiers.  Laying at rest in this beautiful cemetery are 7,861 Americans who fought for the liberation of Sicily and in the landing of Salerno and Anzio.  Flanked by Italian Cypruss trees an a pool that arcs at the entrance the marble grave stones are marked with the names of those fallen.  The personal cost was apparent in the description Joe provided the group.  There are 23 sets of brothers buried side by side including two sets of twins.  In addition to the vast amount of tombstones spread over the 77 acre property , the chapel’s marble walls contain the names of 3095 pesonnel missing in action.   Watching the young players in their uniforms walk through the grounds was a memory,  I will cherish forever.  
1944 nettuno baseball practice.JPG

Today we remember those who died for our freedom and thank them for their great sacrifice.  Thank you to all members in the Armed forces…for all that you have done an continue to do for our country and the world! 


Hiram Bithorn Stadium Upgrades for 2010

P5261044.JPGAlmost every year MLB does something at Hiram Bithorn Stadium as it relates to MLB Games and this year we will be playing a 3 game series between the Marlins and Mets in late June. This year the City is upgrading the warning track which will be installed by Carribean Equipment company also upgrading some drainage areas around the park.  June can be pretty moist in PR so having upgraded drains around the field will be a big plus. 

mayaguez.JPGHad a chance to check out the new stadium in Mayaguez PR where they will be holding the Central American Games in July.  Pretty cool ballpark. It will also host the Caribbean World Series next February.   Its about a 2 and half hour drive from San Juan.  If you are planning to head over you should schedule something now for rooms.  Not many hotels around the city!

Mowing Patterns in Grass

dscn0320.JPGThose 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 the youth event as it was my son that put them in our yard several
years ago with his bubble mower.

The stripes are actually made by rolling or
bending the grass in opposite directions.  In pro parks they use a
vertical reel type mower.Daves_greek_photos_045_1   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

For 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 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

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. 

How to build a Professional Pitchers Mound

Chad Olsen, Brickman Sportsturf Operations Manager builds mound in Tokyo Dome.
Whether the hard clay is added as bricks or bagged material, the mound is built in layers with each layer “bonded” together.

Baseball’s mound has evolved over the years. Back in the late 1800s, it was 45 feet from home plate and the pitcher could take a couple of steps with the ball when throwing. Later, the pitcher had a 6-foot-square box as the designated area and had to stay within that box when throwing. The mound was initially defined in the rules in the early 1900s with the pitching rubber at a height of no more than 15 inches above home plate. Because mounds were at varying heights up to 15 inches, the rule was changed in the 1950s, setting 15 inches as the uniform height. Baseball became a pitcher’s game. In the late 1960s, pitcher Bob Gibson had an ERA of 1.12 and MLB’s top hitter, Carl Yastrzemski, was batting .301. During the 1968 season, over one-fifth of all MLB games were shutouts. The rule was officially changed in 1969, establishing the height of the pitching rubber at 10 inches above home plate–period–not 10 inches above the grass. That rule changed the way the game was played. At 15 inches, pitchers were told to “stand tall and fall.” With the change to 10 inches, it became “drop and drive.” The pitchers would drop down and push off from their right or left leg.

That 10-inch height is mandatory for major and minor league baseball, NCAA Baseball and most high school programs. (Check the official governing body for rules at each level of play.)

Be prepared

This is the method I use for new construction or total reconstruction of a mound. There are many other methods, but I’ve found this is the simplest way.

You’ll need a plate compactor, hand tamp, landscape rake, shovel, level board, hose and a water source. I prefer the professional block-type, four-way pitching rubber. You can flip it each year and get four years of use from it.

The most important thing you need is the clay. I suggest using two types: a harder clay on the plateau and landing area and your regular infield mix for the sides and back of the mound. The harder mix has more clay, with a typical mix about 40 percent sand, 40 to 50 percent clay and 10 to 20 percent silt. The infield mix for the rest of the mound is typically about 60 percent sand, 30 percent clay and 10 percent silt. Suppliers offer several options in bagged mound mixes, some of which come partially moist, some almost muddy and some as dry as desert sand. Be aware of those factors as you evaluate your clay sources. Any of the commercially bagged, vendor-provided mound mixes are heavy in clay and good to work with. When you purchase the material from a vendor, you know you’ll be getting the same thing each time. Bricks are also available for the harder clay. Some people prefer these, which are packaged moist and ready to go into the ground. Others prefer the bagged mixes for more flexibility in establishing moisture levels.

You’ll want to have 8 to 10 tons of clay available to build the mound; 2 tons of the harder clay and 6 to 8 tons of the infield mix. You’ll need wheelbarrows or utility vehicles for loading and unloading it–and people to help move it.

The most accurate way to set your distances and heights is to use a transit with a laser. If you don’t have access to this, you can use a string line run between steel spikes with a bubble level that you clip onto the string. Or, you can build a slope board.

Tackling the task

Plan for the proper orientation when constructing a new field or when building a mound for practice purposes. You’ll want the line from home plate through the pitcher’s mound to second base to run east-northeast so the batter isn’t looking into the sun when facing the pitcher. As you prepare to construct the mound, use the transit and laser or string lines to make sure home plate, the pitcher’s mound and second base are accurately aligned and everything is square.

The string line guides the process of building this bullpen mound in Osaka.
Precisions matters, so measure for every step in the mound building process.

For a regulation MLB field, the distance from the back of the home plate to the front of the pitching rubber is 60 feet 6 inches. The typical pitcher’s mound is an 18-foot circle with the center of the pitching mound 18 inches in front of the pitching rubber. That makes the measurement from the back of the home plate to the center of the pitcher’s mound 59 feet. Too often, the rubber is accidentally placed in the center of the pitcher’s mound so be sure you have the measurements right.

If you’re using the string line, place one steel spike behind the pitching rubber location and one just beyond home plate. Put a pin at the 59-foot point in the center of the mound area and stretch a 9-foot line out from it, moving it all around the pin to mark the outer line of the 18-foot circle. If the grass is already in place, protect it with geotextile and plywood while you’re building the mound.

Equipment and personnel combine to move the mound material.

Leave the pin in the center and place a second pin where the pitching rubber is going to be and mark the pin at 10 inches above home plate. Then, start bringing in the clay to form the base of the mound. Establishing the right moisture content within the clay mix is the key to building the mound. That consistency has been described as just a bit drier than that of Play-Doh when it first comes out of the can. It’s one of the instances where the science and art of sports field management mesh, learning by doing what that right consistency is given the material being used, the outside temperatures and humidity levels, sun, shade or cloud cover, wind speeds and direction. These factors vary daily–and often hourly–and make a difference in the formula that will keep the mix at just the right moisture level.

That’s why you will build the mound in 1-inch levels, creating the degree of moisture you want in each level so it will be just tacky enough for the new layer to adhere to the previous one. Use a tamp to compact each level. It’s important that the hard clay used to build the plateau and landing area is a minimum of 6 to 8 inches deep. You can put down plastic or wrap the tamp with a towel or piece of landscape fabric to keep it from sticking to the clay. You can’t add soil conditioner between these layers, as that will keep them from bonding together. Check the measurements of the height, using the transit and laser or the string line, with every lift of clay.

When you’ve built up the subbase with hard clay at the 60-foot-6-inch area to a 10-inch height, construct the plateau 5 feet wide by 34 inches deep. Position the front of the pitching rubber 60 feet 6 inches from the back of home plate. Set it firmly in place, making sure it is level across the length and width, with the top surface exactly 10 inches above the level of home plate. Draw a centerline through the pitching rubber and run a string from home plate to second base to confirm the rubber is centered.

With the pitching rubber in place and the plateau completed, you can begin to build the slope toward the front of the mound. Begin the slope 6 inches in front of the toe plate creating a fall of 1 inch per each foot. Double-check the accuracy of the slope using the transit and laser or the string line.

You’ll be using the harder mound clay to create the pie-shaped front slope of the mound, as this section will provide the landing area for the pitcher. Use the same method of clay mix, water and tamping, working in 1-inch increments.

You’ll use the infield mix to construct the remainder of the mound. Begin working from the back edge of the plateau using the same layering process. Use the edge of the slope board or a large wooden plank, positioning the top edge on the back of the plateau area and the other edge of the board on the edge of the grass to guide the degree of slope for the back and sides of the mound. Looking at the mound from the front as a clock face, you’ll be completing roughly the area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to transition into the wedge in the front of the mound. You’ll want a smooth area of slope for the back and sides so that the side section precisely meets the edge of the pie-shaped wedge that is the front of the mound. Upon completion, the mound should look like a continuous circle with no indication that different materials have been used.

The dimensions, working from the outer edges of the 5-foot-by-34-inch plateau, are mathematically accurate to make the back and side segments a perfect fit. They tie into the wedge with the 1-inch to 1-foot fall of the front slope that begins 6 inches in front of the pitching rubber.

Once the mound is completed, top it with a 1/8-inch layer of infield conditioner so it won’t stick to the tamp. Then, cover the mound with a tarp and keep it covered to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Once the mound is properly constructed, you’ll have only the easier, but ongoing, task of managing the moisture level as you repair the mound after every practice and game.

Above Article Published in 


Head Groundskeeper bobble head give-away…is also a chia doll!

mike williams chia pet.jpgWell…. I came across a unique give away being promoted at the Charleston Riverdogs stadium showcasing a good friend, Mike Williams likeness on a bobble head.  We have seen a lot of bobbles of groundskeepers but this one is a bit different.  Its a Chia bobble…so I guess the hair grows green grass once you take off his hat and add water. Mike has always been a good sport having worked for a couple MLB teams and now with the R-dogs but this one takes the cake!  


All kidding aside,  Mike won the League award last year for best field so they wanted to do something for him to commemorate his success in 09.    Just goes to show you what some guys do for the clubs to help create fun times for the fans which equates to a successful franchise. Nice job Mike!   

The Original Bull Durham Ballpark Shines again after 16 years!

dap3.JPGOn a crisp cool night the original Bulls baseball park in conjunction with MILB hosted its first pro game since the early nineties.  To say it was a success would be an understated comment.  Were there a few glitches?   Sure …but what would you expect from a ballpark that has been seeing professional games since the early 40’s!   Raves and Raves about the field and the way the ballpark was restored to its initial luster.  4000+ fans filled the seats, berms, and where ever they could stand to witness history.  The crowd was really buzzing. . 

dap.JPGGreat job by Brickman Sportsturf’s, Josh Marden, CSFM  and his field crew for prepping the field .  The highlights of this game will be talked about for years.  Even the bus snafu which hit a snag in bringing over the Mudhens  from the DBAP was unique.   Just gave everyone a chance to snack on a beer and dog.

dap1.JPGConcession lines stayed 20 deep the entire game, wool E wolf took a spin in his go cart and the fans seemed to really like getting up close an personal with the team.  Not much of a choice at the DAP because the team has to walk through the fans to get to the dugout.  That is called old school minor league baseball .  What was even funnier was watching some of the players video tape the people as they were going through the crowd.   Nostalgic, magical and just plain cool seeing the old girl dressed up for a big game.  Welcome back DAP. 

Opening Day Target Field

panoro of target field.JPGAnother great stadium and beautiful field thanks to Larry Divito head GK for the Twins. The Twins came through on time to open the stadium for the first exhibition match with the cardinals.  During our walkthrough of the venue we also had a chance to see Larry’s Shop.  Lets just say it looks like a TORO distribution center!  Had a bit of rain during our walkthrough of the stadium but nothing that was going to rain out a game.  First time these guys have played outside and its really a great atmosphere.  They even have heaters in the stands for the fans!  

Probably the first time the guys had to tarp the field for a game…in Twins history due to the old dome.  Its going to be a fun season.

tarp crew looking good.JPG

target field looking good.JPG

MLB Taiwan Series – Congrats to the Groundcrew!

pano.JPGGreat Job by both Taiwan Groundcrews in Taipei and Kaohsiung. The 3 game series in Taiwan ended with 2 games played and one rain out.  Fridays game went off without a hitch.  The Central Weather Bureau changed the Saturday  forecast in Taipei a few times from 60% to 30% then back to 60%.   It started raining that morning and really didnt stop all day.  We thought we had a break around 2pm but that filled up pretty quickly.  Pulled the tarp a couple times and that was it.  The feild actually held up well and if had stopped we could have played as the puddling was on firm soil.   We waited till 430 for tthe 2pm game to start but the weather never let up…. Actually became much worse. 

groundcrewdraggig.JPGSaturday evening we headed down to kaohsiung for a Sunday afternoon game.  Its amazing how the weather can change after a 2hour train ride.  Hot humid and 0% chance of rain for Sundays game.  The players voiced their praise for the crew and the work that was done at both stadiums.  It couldnt have happened without Kevin Moses, Brandon Putnam and Josh Viet .  Plus our Taiwan interpreters and groundscrew Chiang, “leroy” Quan and Randy.

field photo compressed.JPG 

God of Land… a Worship Service before Dodger Games

god of land.JPG


Interesting day at the ballpark with the locals around Teinmu stadium.   I had the chance to enjoy one of the local customs of the Taiwan people behind homeplate on the warning track.  This morning a worship service was held  in honor of “Fu-der Rightness God”.  Also known as  Fu-Der Diety God who is  in charge of the local land.  He’s a pretty popular God to the people because they believe he will bring them “Good and Money luck.  I guess the Chinese people believe that wealth and land owenrship have something in common.  Imagine that!


Tian Mu Day murray at prayer 16 004.JPGPart of the cermony inluded burning incense, offering gifts of food and burning colored paper as a symbol of money. I figured since weather was looking a bit rough for the Dodgers and CPBL games  it couldnt hurt!    Talking with a few other people at the alter,  they explained everyone (particularly Budhist families) have an alter in the home for the land God. By providing a alter it means they welcome the God of Land a place to stay in the house.   I was invited as a guest and given 3-sticks of incense to place in the urn and I also burned a bit of money… for a good cause.   All in a days work!


Ballparks are turning the corner for Taiwan Series

logo almost finished.JPGAs the Dodgers leave Arizona to cross the dateline for the Taiwan Series Taipai and Kauhsiung, the crews have been in detail mode for the event.  Teinmu Stadium sound checks, logos, signage,  etc..and Kaohsiung Stadium track repairs and infield renovations. Had a bit of rain yesterday in Taipai. Almost an inch fell within 6 hrs.  The infield puddled up pretty good but it dispersed rather quickly with the help of a modified shop vac.  Photo below in Kaohsiung.  Hats off  to Kevin M. and Josh V. for keeping the crews rolling. 

Kaohsiung March 10 011.JPG

the boys painting.JPG

Pre-Game Preparations for a Baseball Field

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for york field.JPGThe level of competition and the expectations of your field users dictate the kind of pregame maintenance routine you’ll have. The routine is a short version of your daily and weekly long-term care. It’s an integral part of the multitude of tasks that need to be done prior to a game. The following basic routine is what would take place in typical, sunny weather conditions. Obviously, rain, snow or other disruptive weather would require major adjustments.

The game day maintenance process actually begins the day before, with the focus on putting the field in its best playing condition for the next scheduled game time. The day starts with mowing. Generally, the foul lines are repainted and the coaches’ boxes marked once mowing is completed. Since time will be limited for the pregame prep, water the infield area heavily early in the morning and/or the night before to reach the best amount of moisture by pregame so only a light wet-down is needed prior to game time. You may need to add water throughout the day, depending on the type of infield surface you have. Smooth out the mound and home plate area and cover them again.


Whether the field serves recreational or pro-level play, make sure you have the right equipment and tools for the pregame routine in good operating order, staged and ready to go. Develop a checklist. Cover all the details in advance. Put gas in the utility vehicle or field rake; chalk in the chalk box, etc.

This is a highly orchestrated routine, and you are the conductor. Develop a plan; assign specific duties based on the time frame you normally have, and make it consistent. Review all the details, making sure every crew member understands how everything works and knows exactly what to do. Practice to ensure it flows smoothly, striving to make it a little better each time.

Pregame for rec-level baseball

This pregame routine for recreational-level baseball is plotted for a quick 15-minute fix with a two-person crew, designated here asJack” and “Jill.” Jack drags the infield, generally with a cocoa mat, but if the surface is chewed up from practice, using a screen mat. It’s an on-the-spot judgment call, so have both mats staged and ready. Jack pulls the practice bases and inserts the plugs prior to dragging.

Generally, the infield foul lines would already be in place, having been lined out and put down earlier with a chalk marker. If not, Jack will drag the larger infield area, and the lining and chalking will take place as soon as dragging is completed.

Jill starts doing the home plate and mound work. If there’s no hitting mat, Jill will need to do hole repair with packing clay. If a mat was used, Jill just smoothes the area, first using a rake and following with a screen mat or cocoa mat. Jill then sets the batter’s box frame and puts down the chalk.

By now, Jack has finished dragging. He moves on to fix the pitcher’s mound, paint the pitching rubber and home plate and do any needed touch up on the foul lines in the infield area. Jill starts watering the infield, taking care to avoid the foul lines and the grass. Jack comes in to hold the hose once the other tasks are completed.

Jill places a towel (or an old plate) to cover home plate, lightly waters that area and removes the towel. If there are any dirt issues, Jill sweeps it off with a towel and takes a handful of chalk from the chalk box, rubs it into home plate to help dry it and removes excess chalk.

Once the watering is complete, Jill marks the coaches’ boxes if they haven’t been marked previously. Jack sets the bases and does the final inventory to ensure all equipment is off the field and the setup is complete.

Assignments are adjusted for a three or four-person crew. For example, one person will pull the practice base and insert the plug at second and start dragging from second to third base. The third or fourth person will pull the practice bases at first and third, inserting the plugs. Crew members three and four will start the infield wet-down along the third base side, while person one moves on to drag along the first base side.

Pregame for pro-level baseball

At the pro level, in addition to basic pregame maintenance and setup, there’s an entire practice setup and take down. The question to keep asking is, “What else can I do to protect the field and make it better for the game?” The array of tools to accomplish that typically include: the pitching deck and the geotextile turf protector that goes under it, the batting cage, the turf protector for the back that fits around the batting cage and the extensions or separate pieces for the fungo circles, the trapezoid section that goes on the grass in front of home plate, the home plate mat, the protective screens for first and second bases, the ball shagging screen and two ball baskets on wheels.

Take a full inventory of the tools and equipment you have to make sure it’s all staged prior to use and picked up afterward. Each person is responsible for his or her assigned area and they provide the check, down to the tiny details. If they took 32 pins onto the field to anchor a protector, they need to be sure 32 pins came off.

For years, it was the custom in the major and minor leagues to take batting practice first and the infield practice afterward. When batting practice comes first, the setup usually takes about 20 minutes and starts when the team comes out to get loose. Over the past couple of years there’s been a trend for teams to take the infield practice before batting practice. If that’s their preference, you have to prepare to put the batting practice things out there the same way, but very quickly.

Another trend in the MLB is for the visiting team to take infield practice just once while in town and the home team just once during the home stand, generally prior to their first batting practice. For most low-level minor league play, everyone takes infield practice, with each team working for 10 minutes. Pregame practice is always a double cycle; the home team goes first, then the visiting team.

Communication between the head groundskeeper and coaches is key the night before the game to find out the plans for the next day. That may include an early practice, which means a few infielders or pitchers will do some drills prior to the typical batting practice. Some pitchers don’t want to throw off the pitching deck. Bottom line, whatever they want is what you do.

Communication with the front office is essential, too, so you know all the details for the first pitch and pregame ceremony, including the performance of the national anthem. You need to know who will be coming onto which area of the field and when it will take place so you can plug it into your setup schedule. Sometimes you’ll place a fake home plate for the ceremony. Your grounds crew will need to replace it because they know how to walk across home plate, approaching it from behind the catcher’s box to avoid tracking chalk around the batter’s box.

You need a lot of people to accomplish all this, typically five or six people for the minors and eight to 10 for MLB level. In Beijing, I had 14, which was necessary because some of the equipment was so heavy. With the increased numbers, activity and visibility, the orchestration becomes even more important.


On a typical practice day, batting practice (BP) comes before infield practice. You’ll have only 2 to 2.5 minutes to remove everything you’ve placed for BP. If your exit for the cage and screens is through the center field gate, you’ll need to take the cage and screens all the way off before infield practice can begin. If the exit is on the first or third base side, you can stage them off the field in foul territory temporarily, and then complete the removal.

Once the practices are completed for both teams, the pregame maintenance and setup begin. The basics are similar to the rec-level pregame routine, with more detail work added. One crew member will be dragging; others will be sweeping up loose clay around the mound and home plate; some will be removing any clay from the grass edge; some will be clearing any debris from the grass off the clay; some will be smoothing the area around the warning track with a fan rake; and one person with a smoothing board, rake or small drag will be working along the edges of the infield. At least four or five people will be holding the hose, with the one at the nozzle being extremely careful to keep any water from falling on the grass. Wet grass, which could result in a wet ball or damp cleats that pick up clay, is unacceptable on a sunny day at this level of play. Some crew members put down fresh chalk on the foul lines.

At all levels, the game bases are set after the watering is completed so they’ll be dry and not slick. For the pros, there’s a specific way of placing them so the logos are set consistently at first and third.

The head groundskeeper makes one final field walk, checking to ensure the setup is complete and no small details have been missed. If there is an issue, it’s fixed immediately and addressed prior to the next pregame setup. The goal is perfection.

Once you establish the most efficient plan, make it so consistent that it becomes routine so you can do it fast enough, but not so routine that you become complacent. If your guard is down, sometimes you forget something.  Above all remember you are part of the “show” and a key member of the team,  therefore presentation and how your staff looks on the field is also very important. Same shirt, cap, pants adds to the professionalism of your crew.  Planning for the unexpected is also important.  Things like irrigation system breaks, the water hose breaks, the cart runs out of gas while dragging the field, a base anchor is bent etc…  Things happen so its best to have a procedure in place to deal with the unexpected.

The above article was published in Sports Field Management Magazine

Tianmu Stadium Prepares for Spring Training Game

Tien Mu Day 3 044.JPGAs with many International field prepartions you need to improvise when you do not have the things you need.  Watering the field is quite the chore at Tianmu Stadium.  Kevin Moses took this photo once he and the ground crew set up the water cannon.  Just keeping it from jumping out of the sand bags is tough.  Water cannons are used when you do not have under ground irrigation or when the existing system does not have adequate coverage.  We are in the latter at Tianmu Stadium. 


Tien Mu Day 4 026.JPGAlso a little tarp practice for the locals.  I believe they had over 75 guys practicing the pull.  It should be fun! 

Kaohsiung Stadium is part of Dodgers Spring Training Taiwan Games Tour

IMG_1062.JPGKaohsiung City –  The L.A. Dodgers are slated to play there final matchup with the Chinese Taipai All-stars on Sunday March 14th.  The stadium in Kaohsiung ( also known as Chengching Lake Park)  was used back in 2001 for the Baseball World Cup.  Terry Francona took team USA through the ballpark and won a game against Chinese Taipei 6-0 while the countries President Chen Shui-bian watched the event.  The stadium Capacity is is 20000+  and for that game is was a sell out.     Kaohsiung City (pronounced cowshoong) is in the southern part of Chinese Taipei.  It can be accessed by high speed rail pretty easily from Taipei and it also has an international airport.  The baseball style is typical Asian culture as they use the double batting practice set up to shorten the time and increase the swings. 

doubleBP.JPGThere is a huge mall called the “Dream Mall” in the city where everything starts or ends with the word dream.  Dream Food, Fun at Dream, Dream directions, Dream travel etc.. Kaohsiung hosted the 2009 World Games. All the sports were held except for Baseball.   They actually built a Main stadium for the Main events ( rugby seven-a-side and flying disc games)  called the “Main” Stadium. Its pretty impressive with 40000 seats. 

On another note – -Spring training is hopping in the US right now and that means that the baseball season is officially underway.  With so many new spring training venues its tough to remember some of the older ones.. The Dodgers like the Braves left there East coast spring training digs in recent years for greener pastures.   Both landed in some beautiful facilities.  Its sad to see the older venues shut down but at the same time its nice for the clubs to provide better and safer facilties for their fans and players.   

Dragons in the Bullpen

dragons in the bullpen.JPGTaipei –  Yes …we have dragons in the bullpen. Actually dragon boats used for various Taiwan festivities but it was kind of odd to see them parked in the bullpen.  Anyway, we are checking out a couple ballparks for the upcoming LA Dodgers, exhibition games against the CPBL All star team. Looks like we are playing at Tein Mou stadium and Kaohsiung Ballpark. When they launched the ticket sales for the 2 games they were immediately sold out.    In addtion to evaluating the ballfields we held a clinic in Taipei. It’s the first ever baseball field maintenance clinic at Tein Mou stadium.  They had around 35-40 people which was pretty good considering the late notice of the event.  Thanks to the organisers and the “PING’s” the event was a success.

Over the years,  I have been to this stadium several times,  including a couple IBAF World Cups in 2001 and 2007.  Its been a good park for some dramatic games.  Its starting to show
field clininc partial groupshot.JPGits years.  I would imagine they will be renovating in a few years as there have been several other newer ballparks built in the country that are competing for the bigger events.  But for now Tein Mou will host the LA Dodgers return to Taiwan for the first time in over 20 years.  Heading to the Ballpark in Kaohsiung

Puerto Rico is not only a baseball Country

A friend of mine ( angel) in P.R. sent me the following fun facts about his country. Pretty intersting read about the small Island

Walmart in Carolina, Puerto Rico broke the selling records of all Walmart stores.


Puerto Rico is the country with the most cars per square mile in the world:


Thats 146 vehicles per street mile and 4,300 vehicles per square mile.


Plaza Las Americas mall in San Juan is the most profitable mall per square foot in the world.


The highest grossing Borders book store in US territory is located in Plaza Las Americas Mall, in Puerto Rico.


Busiest Toys “R” Us in the world is also in Plaza Las Americas, Puerto Rico.


The highest grossing Sears store in the World is in Puerto Rico.


The highest selling Kmart in the US is in San Juan, Puerto Rico.


The Radio Shack store in Plaza Las Americas mall is the busiest and highest grossing Radio Shack in the world.


The largest JC Penney store in the world (a full 4 stories) is located at Plaza Las Americas mall, in Puerto Rico.


The Port of San Juan is the fourth busiest seaport in the Western Hemisphere.


San Juan is the oldest city in US territory (Older than the city of St. Augustine, FL) and was founded in 1508 by Juan Ponce de Leon.


Pia Colada was “born” in PR in 1954.


The legal drinking age is 18.


Puerto Rico has won the Miss Universe pageant a record five times


Puerto Rico has the only rain forest in the US- El Yunque.


The place in the world with more pharmaceutical companies per square mile is Puerto Rico.


There are about 1,100 people per square mile, a ratio higher than within any of the 50 states in the United States. Puerto Rico’s population density per square miles is among the world’s highest – only Bangladesh, The Maldives, Barbados, Taiwan, South Korea and the city-states of Hong Kong and Singapore are more crowded.


Puerto Rico is the third country in the world with more physicians in proportion to its population.


The Camuy river in Puerto Rico is among the top three longest underground rivers in the world.

Puerto Rico has one of the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world.

The longest pool in the world is located in a hotel in Dorado, PR.

It is estimated that there is more Nickel in the mountains of Puerto Rico than the whole United States, including Alaska and Hawaii.

There are more Puerto Ricans living in the rest of the United States than in the island of Puerto Rico itself.

La Fortaleza in San Juan is the oldest executive mansion in the New World.


The state of Florida was discovered by Puerto Rico’s first governor, Don Juan Ponce de Leon.


The first shot fired by the United States in World War I was in Puerto Rico by Lt. Teofilo Marxuach.


86% of the rum drunk in the U.S. is from Puerto Rico.


Puerto Rico has one of the world’s highest productivity ratios.


The world’s highest concentrations of bioluminescent waters are in Puerto Rico.


Coffee grown and brewed in Puerto Rico is the official coffee of the Vatican.


Puerto Rico ranks 6th in the world when it comes to college graduates.


Puerto Ricans are the only people in the world who regularly applaud when a plane lands and when it reaches the gate.


Puerto Rico has more Gas Stations, Churches, Cars, Roads, and  Walgreens per square mile than any other country in the world.


World biggest and largest radio telescope is in Puerto Rico.


Telemundo, the second largest Spanish language television station in the United States, was founded in Puerto Rico.


Puerto Rico has more rivers per square mile than any other place in the world.


The second radio station to be inaugurated in the US was in PR.


The longest running TV program was in Puerto Rico.


The first Emmy went to a Puerto Rican… Jose Ferrer. 


He also got the Academy award for the same role.


 Rita Moreno got those two and one for Best Actress in a Broadway show.  No one else has matched that.


 The most outstanding soldier in Europe at the end of the Second WW was chosen from the Puerto Rican 66th Infantry.


 One of the three still living WWI veterans is a Puerto Rican.




2010 Caribbean World Series starts next week!

Estadio margarita.jpgThe 2010 year’s Caribbean World Series will be played in Porlamar which is a small town on the Island of Margarita in Nueva Esparta stadium. Its located off the coast of Venezuela.  The stadium is home to the Margarita Braves. The tournament begins Feb 2.  Looks like Mayaguez out of the P.R. has made it to the final dance. As of this weekend the Escogido and Gigantes in the D.R. are tied up 3-3 in their series and the Magallanes are leading their series against Caracas 2-1.  Keep it on your calendars as the first big international baseball event of the year is just around the corner!


Constructing a Baseball Infield

Technically, 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 inground 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.


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