It’s hard to think of baseball during these frigid days, but its sunny and warm in Australia as we prepare for the MLB season Opener March 22nd – 23rd. During this site visit we had a chance to see some Cricket and watch the Ausies take on England. The new stand ( pictured above) that is located behind homeplate is just about finished and looks beautiful. It was actually designed with baseball dugouts that can be covered with temporary seating for the other sports that play at the SCG.
The Sydney cricket ground (SCG) is considered the hallowed grounds for cricket in all of Australia. However that connection does not protect the grounds from the additional use it receives annually. Cricket season runs from November to March, then AFL Rugby is typically late March till Sept. Other high traffic events include, charity cricket games and this spring the SCG will host our season opener. During our site planning meetings we witnessed daily tours with people criss-crossing the field. Just like any other major sports venue this facility has learned to adapt in order to meet the demand of a sports crazed country. Hats off to Tom Parker and his crew for keeping this pitch looking great.
The photo above is a view from behind the homeplate area. The planning for the Cricket, to baseball, to AFL football conversion has been extensive. We are shipping over a few clay products and soil conditioners to work with local materials from the states and padding from Canada. We found some nice local warning track mix, and a great sod farm. We are having to coordinate this conversion over a 10 day period. The playing surface is just a part of the overall conversion. Other areas of the conversion include entire outfield and foul territory fencing system, wall padding, bullpens, foul poles, batters eye, backstop structure, netting, dugouts, locker rooms , etc… It’s going to be challenging and fun all at the same time. Our awesome conversion team includes the SCG crew, Moore Sports, Evergreen and Pier Properties plus a few other subs. More to follow as we get closer to this event. Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in just a couple weeks so hope I you can stay warm with the thought that baseball season is just around the corner.
Congratulations to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014. Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox along with Frank Thomas. The Braves 1-2 punch had some help with an awesome manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone. You can throw in Smolzty, Avery and Merker and then Wohlers to close which kind of made it an unbeatable rotation.
Having worked for the Braves and managed the Spring training fields where Glav and Mad-dog competed during the 90’s it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this duo was destined for the HOF. West Palm Beach was the Braves spring home from 1962-1996. I started in WPB in 1988 and moved with the Braves to Disney in 1996 for a few more years during the Braves magical run.
Mad-dog and Glav would typically be the first guys to arrive in every morning around 7am. Always walk across the field to say hello, ask what the day looked like, which golf course to hit in the afternoon, where to fish, etc.. They were always appreciative of the field and our crew. Many times bringing breakfast sandwiches for the crew. I would walk in the locker room and ask how the mound performed that day and both would be happy to offer comments. These guys were SO consistent. I recall after a game where Maddox pitched in the bullpen, he thought the home plate was turned a little. Sure enough we put a string on it and it was off by ¼ inch. On another occasion, I asked him to come out to see the mound at Disney. He had thrown that day (which I didn’t get a chance to attend due to other mickey mouse duties) and I told him thanks for the autograph. He asked what i meant and I told him he always leaves a distinct pattern with his push off toe after each pitch. His foot placement across the clay and landing area was exactly the same every single time he pitched.
These guys set the tempo for the many winning seasons they had in the 90’s. Bobby would remind me every spring “this is where we start winning Mur so get us going right! ” With these two on the mound… that was easy!
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.
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!
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 @?&#$.
It’s sure to be fun for those who can wait
Merry Christmas to all…..especially my blog mates!
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!
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.
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.
Lancaster 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.
Finishing 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!
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.)
( 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)
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.
Couldn’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.
This 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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
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!
Calling 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! !
Last 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.
One 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.
FYI – 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.
The 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!