Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Help bring baby Harshman home


A good friend in our baseball community Eric Harshman and his wife have adopted a child in Congo africa and due to the government, they along with several other families are being held up by red tape as explained in this article . Eric is the groundskeeper for the university of Kentucky.

A simple signature from the governments minister of immigration is all that’s needed and that will send these families home. . The New York daily posted a story this past week about their plight. In an effort to get the baseball community’s support please sign the attached petition and also write your congressmen to put pressure on the government in Congo to release the children to their legal families.

Happy New Year!


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Wishing everyone a Happy healthy and prosperous New year!  

Looking ahead at 2014 looks to be pretty busy for the international projects.  Kicking off with the MLB Opener in Sydney is only a start.  Also several exhibition games are being played in different parks.    Enjoy the holiday and drink responsibly.   Taxis are the way to go!

 

A Christmas Groundskeeper Story


A Christmas Groundskeeper Story.

A Christmas Groundskeeper Story


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Twas the night before Christmas when all through the park
Not a mower was running because it was dark
We covered our grass with a turf blanket clothe
Just hoping the wind, would not blow it off.

The park was all prepped for a short winters nap
So I Snapped up my jacket and pulled down my cap
When all of a sudden there came such a noise
It wasn’t the reindeer but a group of young boys.

How could that be on Christmas Eve?
It was way to late…I just wanted to leave.
When I looked over the field to my eyes would appear
Those kids trying to start our favorite John Deere.

At first I was mad as I watched them at play
When I was a kid I was the very same way.
They spoke not a word when the cart wouldn’t start
As I heard one whisper , “Let’s dip-set this park”.

They pushed the tractor,  back under the cover
And scaled over the fence , one after another
No damage was done, thank goodness for that
It was kids, being kids and not being brats.

Last season was long , we all would agree
Our fields took a beating for all to see
Throughout the year we would try and rebuild
Do you think Saint Nick might bring a new field?

We need to re sod , our crew would say
And the boss would shout out , Absolutely No Way!
The cost is too high and the owner’s made cuts
He said to be thankful, it couldve been us.

It takes hard work we tried to explain
Those concerts you book are more than a pain
Alas  he would cave , you can get your new grass
Just get back to work and please stay off my @?&#$.

So be true an honest at whatever you do
Be it mowing or raking it’s a reflection on you.
From the holiday season and throughout the New Year
There’s one blog to read its Marks Blogosphere

Now Newman, Now Sanchez ,Now Platt and Bloom
“Keep off the grass” the groundskeeper will fume.
Soon after New Year’s,  spring training will begin
Before you know it, baseball’s back again.

Next season will start with an Opener down under
How long is that flight, the players must wonder.
Our DBacks and Dodgers are excited to play
At the SCG pitch ….on MLB clay!

It’s sure to be fun for those who can wait
Merry Christmas to all…..especially my blog mates!

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Brickman Team Members volunteer time in Haiti


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Two of our brickman team members Larry Cammarata senior horticulturalist and Peter Brugeman Ops Manager volunteered their time , expertise and resources to help install a new irrigation system for “Med & food for kids” in Cap Haitian , Haiti. The non profit farm grows Haitian peanuts to produce life saving food for Malnourished children. With the improvements to the new irrigation system the future crop cycles will grow larger pods , fewer disease issues and develop a complete life cycle.

They also helped the Haitians understand the different crop development stages of the peanut and how to vary the water delivery to those crop stages for a better harvest.

It’s great too hear about how our company gives back to communities around the world.

Proud to be part of the Brickman team!

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The SCG’s baseball history 1914-2014


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The SCG members stand is a beautiful building. The foundation of the stand was laid out by British soldiers in the 1850’s. In the photo you can see the construction of the DBacks dugout on the first base side. A lot of progress since our last site visit.

The Chicago White Sox and the New York Giants played NSW at the SCG in 1914. The members stand is at the Right in this old photo as the white sox take the field. The history of this venue and how it has brought our countries together over the years is pretty cool.

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Estadio Hermosillo continues to shine in Sonora


During our winter league evaluations chad and Rafael checked in on Hermosillo’s Sonora ballpark. In addition to a few photos chad took …. our friend Fernando sent some photos over of the opening night and the ongoing use of the stadium. Just a really cool ballpark.

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2013 Ballfield renovations around the globe


First and foremost, Congrats to the Boston Red Sox on their 2013 WCS victory as well as my good friend David Mellor and his groundcrew.   It was a great series.

Although the series has just ended field renovations have been underway in numerous places preparing for the 2014 season.  Its a busy year for us with renovations in Lancaster and Tennessee.  Also ongoing new construction in Amsterdam  at the Pioniers new complex and in Australia as they prepare for the ABL season openers next next week.   Not to mention a major renovation at the SCG for the 2014 MLB Opener.  Hoping mother nature is good to  all the contractors.

lancasterWe built the field in Lancaster back in 2005.  It has been used for everything from ice rinks to soccer , football to concerts you name it,  this field has seen it.

lancastor new fieldLancaster was still “looking” OK ,  but after a field sees  8-10 years of high use it needs to be resurfaced because rain water begins to drain more slowly through the profile due to all the organic matter that develops over the years.   The main reason it has performed so well  has been the great turf managers that have taken care of the field.  Anthony DeFao and Josh Viet…Two guys in 10 years.   The field’s successful performance over the years reflects their hard work and dedication. The ODP group has always supported our efforts in in building and managing their fields.

amsterdam hooddorp fieldFinishing touches in Hoofddorp on the Pioniers new sport complex.  The main stadium field is going to be a real gem.   The folks in Amsterdam had a big storm recently and some of the warning track mix washed onto the field.  In an effort to remove the very small gravel they broke out the vacuum cleaners.   That’s commitment!

smokiesThe Tennessee Smokies new natural grass surface is another big upgrade.  This field has also been around for several years and used similar as Lancaster for special events.

SCG topdressedSCG renovation taking shape after a heavy topdressing of the newly installed “cooch” grass ( bermuda).  Although not a pretty photo this looks really good to turf managers.

Checking out the DR Winter League Ballparks


???????????????????????????????The World Series is not the only pro baseball  going on this weekend.  Its also the start of the 2013 Caribbean Winter League Season.    We started reviewing  the pro parks in the Dominican Republic this past week.  This will be our 3rd series of winter league cub evaluations.    It was great  seeing the progress they are making on the fields.  I recall during our last set of inspections they were needing equipment and materials that was not available on the island.  After seeing just a few of the DR parks this year,  we noticed a marked improvement of the playing surfaces and the facilities.    ( Photo above is Santiago’s ballpark.)

quiesqya( Photo above in Santo Domingo) There are several reasons that I believe relate to the  continuing improvements of the facilities and fields.   MLB OPs  has been hosting field clinics every other year in the DR,  the MLB DR office has expanded and is a huge resource for the clubs as they determine ways to make there parks better.   You also have  clubs that are  devoting more time and funds towards making their parks better for fans and players.      Everyone wins!     6 years ago most of the fields were a bit rough and the ground crews were frustrated with lack of materials and overuse.   Still room for improvement but…There is a new breeze blowing and it’s going in the right direction.   Nice work by the MLB DR office and the WL.  ( La Ramona Ballpark Below)

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SCG renovation underway for 2014 MLB opener


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One end of the pitch is being graded to be more like a baseball infield in preparation for the 2014 MLB opener. They removed about 45000 sq ft of grass and slightly leveled the area where the infield will be placed in front of the new grandstand. The grandstand also had permanent dugouts installed as part of the total renovation. The SCG is not touching the cricket wicket so those hallowed grounds are safe. The SCG crew is awesome. What a great group to work with.image

MLBUYA 2013 field maintenance clinic, Compton CA.


imageCouldn’t  have asked for a better day for our final field clinic In Compton.   The weather was great and the turnout was also wonderful.   This year was our 3rd clinic in Compton since the first academy opened In 2006. Ironically out of the 70 attendees only a handful  raised there hands when I asked if they attended Previous  clinics.   we focused our talks on fall renovations and general maintenance.   It was great having Luke Yoder from the padres help out as well as Rene Garcia from the dodgers.   Also had chad Olsen handling a few talks.     We had Covermaster and diamond pro sponsor the clinics for this year.   A big thanks to each of them. There donation covered meals and expenses for the free event.   Also a big thanks to the local stma chapter for sharing resources to the group.

Next year looks like another busy clinic year And The academies keep growing.

Haarlemmermeer municipality new baseball field


imageThis  Natural grass baseball field construction  project in the suburbs  of Amsterdam is almost complete.   It was put to the test after a heavy rain storm Monday evening and throughout the entire night.   Overall, It rained several inches Monday and the field was totally dry as we walked across it Monday morning.    The warning track also didn’t have a single puddle.   This field was constructed on a parcel of land that is 5 meters below sea level.    Great job city , architect and contractor.

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL UP FOR OLYMPIC VOTE THIS WEEKEND!


BASEBALL/SOFTBALL UP FOR OLYMPIC VOTE THIS WEEKEND!.

BASEBALL/SOFTBALL UP FOR OLYMPIC VOTE THIS WEEKEND!


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This weekend the IOC will vote on 3 major items when they meet in Rio.   The host city for the 2020 Olympics, a new chief to replace  J. Rogge and which of 3 sports ( Squash, Wrestling or baseball/softball)  will be included in the 2020 games.

As for  which sport should be chosen as the  26th discipline  in my opinion, that decision should be made based on what the federations have accomplished towards improving the sports worldwide exposure both on the field and off.   The IOC members also  should consider what sport will be more appropriate at building relationships through teamwork at all ages and genders.  These values make our world a better place to live.

Beijing Olympic Recovery Mode

Wrestling was booted off the Olympic program just a few months ago and according to their federation have made huge changes to improve the sport.    From what I have read  they changed the scoring system and added two women competition classes.  I don’t see much change here even though I think the sport should be in the Olympics because of its tradition.   I could think of a few others that should have been considered for removal way before wrestling but that’s just me.

Squash is banking on the fact that they may not need a major sporting venue. I understand they’ve  also developed a new type of graphic scoring program.   I’m sure the sport has a large following  but  I travel quite a bit and I don’t see a lot of squash tournaments around nor do i hear people talking about the history of squash such as who their favorite team is, etc…  There is a World Squash Hall of fame and the current  top 10  players  are  from Egypt, England, Spain and France.   ( five from Egypt)

The Spirit of Olympic Baseball

Baseball and Softball have changed things drastically thanks to the leadership of  Don Porter and Riccardo Fricarri co-presidents of the World baseball softball confederation.    After being out of the Olympic program for 8 years,  they have retooled and made strides in growing the game around the world in both genders.      They have combined the baseball and softball organizations into one federation.  65 million participants play  the game around the world. They have  also developed a shorter competition format and the ability to host  both sports in the same venue instead of building separate facilities for both softball and baseball.  (That was a bit tricky but it will be cool!)

In the past  ( baseball and softball) was considered  an “American dominated sport”.  That tagline has really changed.

1.  During the past 3  World Baseball Classics you have seen teams such as Holland, Japan, Korea, Dominican Republic, Italy and Puerto Rico when top spots in the competition.

2.   Who won the 2012 Pan American Games?  Canada!

3.    Who won the last Softball Olympics? Japan!

4.    Who won the 2008 Beijing Baseball Olympics?   Korea!

5.    Who won the last 2011 Baseball World Cup featuring 16 top teams from around the world?    Holland 1st, Cuba 2nd Canada 3rd.

Bottom line the sport has emerged in the past 10 years as a true world sport with millions of kids and adults playing the game.   In my opinion (all though a bit biased as you can tell from the photos)  I’m pretty sure I would vote for baseball/softball.

Olympic Games are Underway...Rain an all!

I haven’t really followed who will be the next President of the IOC but most people are talking about Thomas Bach.  He’s from germany and supposedly made the suggestion to softball and baseball to combine federations back when they were trying to figure out what to do to get back in the games.

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The 2020 site selection vote also makes for a nice dessert at this IOC function. Madrid, Istanbul and Japan will present to the group.   My take is  Spain has some economic issues to figure out however they already have most of the venues completed and they are a sports crazed nation but the summer games were just in Europe.    Istanbul is a 14 hour car ride to Syria which isn’t great timing for that group considering whats going on today,  however i understand its a beautiful country.    Then there is Japan … they are probably the safest country outside of the USA and feature baseball and softball as the top sport.     I think Japan has the inside track on this one but you never know.

It’s going to be an interesting weekend as the IOC members tend to vote based on protocols that no one has been able to figure out.   Stay tuned!

POLL: Vote for Baseball/Softball 2020 Olympics


athens 2004Calling on all baseball bloggers to cast your vote using the link below. The IOC will vote for one of three sports next month. Keep the momentum up for our softball baseball federation to make it happen. Playball 2020! !

http://www.insidethegames.biz/polls/75-which-sport-do-you-think-should-be-part-of-the-olympic-programme-for-2020

Checking out Korea’s Baseball Stadiums


korea domed stadiumLast week  I was a guest of the KBO (Korean baseball organization).   In an effort to upgrade their parks now and in the future we visited each stadium and spoke with operators and care takers collecting information about their facilities.   Korea is in the process of renovating and building new parks as the KBO league expands.   All of the ballparks range in size from 10,000 to 28000 capacity.  All of the fields are Kentucky bluegrass or synthetic grass.  A couple stadiums are moving away from synthetic back to natural grass.

jamsil stadium korea olympicsOne of the older stadiums was called Jamsil ballpark.   The ballpark was used as part of the 1988 Olympics.  According to the locals, the two teams that play here are considered the Yankees – red sox of Korea.  I must have heard it 10 times and from the looks of the sellout game I attended, it sure felt like it.  You can draw a line through the center of the stadium between the fans cheering on the bears or the twins.   One of our tasks was to check the lights  and at Jamsil stadium and we were allowed  to perform the light check during the 5th inning.   As with most Asian leagues, after the 5th inning they re-line the field and the umpires take a several minute break.  The players actually go out in the outfield and  stretch again.  That was the first time checking lux levels in front of 27000 people.

mokdong stadium bonsai garden batters eyeFYI – This country is passionate about their baseball.   We had the chance to attend a few games and it was electrifying!  The other thing that struck me was the demographics of who attended the games.  I would estimate, more than half the crowd was between the ages of 18-30.  There was a party in the stands that was choreographed with songs for each player.   The songs played straight through the entire at bat of the home team or visiting team.     Even when the hitter was swinging away!   Something you don’t see in other countries.

Korea’s first domed stadium is underway (top photo) .  Considering the temperatures in March are similar to Detroit , the warm building will be enjoyed by the local communities in the winter time.    It will also make the  fans happy during those hot humid summers with AC.

jamsil stadium crowdThe best part of the Korean ballpark tour was meeting the people and making friends .   A big thanks to the KBO team especially Joey, Sean, Jason and Mr. Haun!  You guys rock!    Sports brings people together and just like baseball in any country our game is a common connector.   Looking forward to the next trip already!

A new stadium in 2014 for the Tomateros de Culiacan


Acceso estadioA new park is underway in Culiacan , mexico.  The future home of the Tomateros is designed to hold 18000 people!     Its a natural grass stadium with some wonderful site lines.  This is going to be a fun project because the city is really cool.   The architect took some time in designing the seating bowl which will generate a lot of fun for fans.   It’s going to truly be a fan friendly facility.    The planned opening is October 2014.

Campo de juegoThe owners of the club are the Ley family.  They are really excited about this new sports venue in their home town and deserve to be. They are a good family with a long history in the Mexico and the baseball community.     The club has a very strong history of winning the Mexican Winter league and has had numerous championships over the years.   This park is being constructed directly beside the current baseball stadium so  logistics will be challenging for the 2013 season but in the end,  they will have new jewel in the Mexican winter  league.   Congrats to Juan Manuel Ley Lopez, his family and the architect Jim Sevilla

Amsterdam’s New Baseball Stadium !


 

amsterdam field 2The blue grass planted only a couple weeks ago is coming up nicely and the ballpark is completing the steel/concrete risers. The city of hoofddorp and the contractor are pushing the bluegrass along for full establishment this fall. The ballpark will end up seating about 500-1000 but will be able to expand to 25000 seats. the project will be completed by November 2013. It will open in the spring for the Pioneers Club team and be used by the Dutch Federation for training their national clubs as well.

Keeping It Real In Amsterdam


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The new natural grass sport complex being developed in Amsterdam is really taking shape.  Congrats to the City of Haarlemmermeer / Hoofddorp and the Pioneers Club team.   The construction of the mound and home plates are almost complete and the  sand based root zone is being installed.  Chad Olsen is also proofing the finish grade this week before seeding the bluegrass blend.    Looking back on the planning process of this project provided some interesting thoughts.  I’ve been asked a few times by some of my peers as to why they didn’t go with synthetic grass.  After all,  here is a country that sees a lot of rain and cloud cover as well as low temps and they have a short outdoor sports season.   However, its a question I could see coming from folks.   The  Grass /turf selection  was discussed extensively and through a few testimonials from dutch horticulturists and local sportsturf  managers,  we stayed the course with natural grass.   It was the right choice for many reasons, but the municipality needed to collect accurate information to justify the decision.

tulips in amsterdam

The Dutch grow some of the most beautiful plant material in the world.   The ground and soils are  designed for agriculture and the culture embraces nature and a natural  lifestyle.   The land of bicycles ,  the windmills for energy are abundant,  garden after beautiful garden criss-cross the countryside and recreational athletic fields are managed at a very high level.  I  could go on and on about this forward thinking country.  The streets are clean of trash,  all the common ground areas are free of weeds/high grass and the landscaping  is well-kept.  Bottom line,  the deciding factor to go with natural grass was due to the country having a huge appreciation  for maintaining things as well as the drive to develop a state of the art playing surface for their baseball and softball community.

Over the years I have had the chance to work at a few great places.  Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando was one of them.   The complex was programmed and designed to be open 365 days a year.  Ive heard the question a couple times as to why we didn’t consider going with synthetic turf.     One of the reasons… Reggie Williams , the VP of Sport for Disney was a former NFL Bengals football player and had spent  many years playing on synthetic turf which he was not a  big fan of at the time.   We all followed his lead and designed the fields and event management system with the ability to host multiple events.  For example we were able to host 1500 baseball games in a 6 week slot during the heat of summer.    We proved that natural grass could sustain extremely high use if the fields were designed and maintained properly.    The fact that Disney has a culture of maintaining things at a high level also helped with planning the maintenance operations.

When you are building that new ballpark or field, do your homework before selecting a playing surface whether it be synthetic or natural.  Both have pros and cons,  Many of you have played on both good and bad surfaces.     It may appear to be an easy financial choice but in the long run when you weigh all the facts,  there really isn’t a major cost savings when you compare both surfaces.    For many years I have managed  the baseball field at Hiram bithorn stadium in Puerto Rico for multiple MLB games.  It’s a synthetic surface and the staff, equipment and products we use are equal to managing a professional  natural grass baseball field.     The turf was replaced in 2004 for a new in-fill turf product and since this was the Montreal Expos home ground they wanted to keep it similar to what they had at Olympic stadium.    The City of San Juan has struggled with budgets like many around the world making it tough to justify field maintenance over police protection.    After 8 years of moderate use,  the turf is ready to be replaced/renovated and either option is an expensive process.

Puerto Rico in San Juan for WBC

Some countries take the “synthetic turf needs less  maintenance”  pitch  to the extreme which is unfortunate.  I’ve seen neglected  turf fields that need to be replaced after just a few of years of use because they were not groomed properly.  Maintenance is key to any surface selected.   The playing surface selection process should also be based on how the community views cultural  practices and if they have the capacity, resources or ability to maintain either surface at a safe level.    If you are thinking about changing out your field  do your  homework  about all the different options.   Reach out to your local natural grass professionals or contact the STMA (www.stma.org) for up to date info on some of the new varieties of turfgrass.        At the end of the day I’m hoping you can “keep it real” !

MLB heads down under for 2014 opener


imageAfter multiple trips and site reviews to Australia we are finally bringing an MLB game down under!   Not only a game but an opening series.  One of the challenges of selecting a site for the games was finding a venue that could be transformed for the event.   After todays media frenzy that can be checked off the box. ( Photo above is looking from center field back to homeplate of the new seating section.)
The Sydney Cricket Grounds ( SCG)  in New South Wales is the spot!   With dimensions of 335 down the lines and 405 to center it meets the requirements and the cricket pitch has a history of playing baseball..even though it was 100 years ago.   Also the natural Bermuda over seeded rye grass that we will play on is common to spring training facilities and the SCG staff manicure it to the 9’s.    With a bit of grade tweaks and fencing design it will be just fine for an MLBfield.
20130613-132310.jpgHaving met with the head curator for the SCG , Tom Parker we came up with a sound strategy for making the pitch work. He has cricket until March 1 and that gives us a couple weeks to flip the field. Afterwards he has a week or so before the AFL league begins.
20130613-132359.jpgWe are making clays locally for the infield and shipping in mound clays.  A complete warning track will be installed along with bullpens, batters eye and backstop.    A lot of work for a couple weeks but the folks the SCG have  lot of experience with multi use venues so everything will be fine.   The venue will also be showcasing a new 170 million dollar grandstand behind homeplate.
The winningest ticket in baseball.  Not only the best venue in the world but the best beer.    Can’t wait to hear MLB’s  thunder down under!
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