Archive for the ‘ Uncategorized ’ Category

Sonara Stadium in Hermosillo


Hermosillo Ballpark continuing to come out of the ground.  The concrete work is probably 50% complete and the field will begin next month.  Its going to be a really cool ballpark .    I’m glad it will be natural grass as the heat there during the summer can be well over 100 degrees on a daily basis.  The bermuda grass will love it.

The big steel is all in for suspending the upper deck of the volcano seating bowl.

Baseball Field Maintenance


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The 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.

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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

Olympic Mascots and Baseball


   Just looking over some old photos from the past few Baseball Summer Olympic Games and noticed a theme developing of some  strange-looking mascots.  In our biz,  turf managers work pretty closely with the Mascots giving them some direction as to where they can and can’t go on the field.   The last  mascots that appeared to have some connection to the country were in Sydney for the 2000 Olympics.  We had  Ollie (after the kookaburra), Syd ( the platypus) and Millie (the Echidna).   Made sense… animals from Australia,  right?   They even looked like animals.

 The Athens 2004 Olympics is where it appears that the mascot theme began a movement towards the oddly shaped fellas.  The names were spot on with Phoebus and Athena,  God of light and music.  I can understand the  history behind why the mascots were chosen,  but not the look of the actual character.   I don’t think Athena looked like that.   Don’t get me wrong the kids loved them but really what were they?

In 2008 Beijing,  they expanded the mascot world with a host of more strange-looking things known as the Fuwa.  I guess they were supposed to mimic the popular animals  in china like the panda, antelope, the swallow bird and a fish.  Unfortunately they all looked pretty similar (except for the colors).    They reminded me of the Poke-man characters. They were fun but the only one  I could connect with was the panda because it was black and white.  I forgot they also added the “Olympic Flame” mascot.  Guess which one that is?

For London 2012 it appears they are keeping up with the  theme of  different  looking mascots.   These guys ( gals …not sure) are called Wenlock and Mandeville.  They are supposed to represent a couple of cities in London.  Cities?   Ok…I do like the color and their eye.

With London’s 2012 Olympics around the corner its pretty sad knowing baseball and softball will not be represented for the first time in 20 years.   I don’t want to get into the politics as to why we are not in the games for 2012.   As one can assume it has to do with the politics of multiple organizations and different agendas.  It’s ironic that around about the time they introduced the strange mascots in 2004  they started talking about booting baseball and softball.

I do know that the IBAF,  ISF and MLB are working together to get baseball and softball back in the games for 2020.  Maybe by then,  the phase of  odd-looking mascots will fade.

Is it time to rebuild your Baseball Homeplate area?


Planning to rebuild your homeplate?  If it looks like this well I think you waited to long.  I see to many fields and once in a while i run across one that makes me cry.  Im not going to mention where this field is but obviously there is a problem with both safety and playability.

Preparing to build a field starts with homeplate.  The entire ballpark is determined by where the back tip of homeplate is located.   orientation is always discussed as an issue and what MLB recommends is a direction fo North-Northeast which works fine for ballparks North of the 3o latitude. Homeplate areas vary in size typically they are 26 ft in diameter however many make them larger to 30ft to reduce turf wear and tear.  Again 26ft is a recommendation. The actual home plate is made of rubber and has five points.  A regulation home plate is a 17-inch square with two corners of the square removed.  The dimensions of home plate are 17 in. by 8½ in. by 8½ in. by 12 in. X 12 in.  The home plate is set into the ground with the point at the intersection of the lines that extend from home plate to first base and third base.  The 17 in. side of the plate faces the pitcher.  The two 12 in. sides face the first and third baselines.  The top edge of the home plate should be bevelled (have a slanted edge).  Home plate is set into the ground, level with the ground.  The homeplate should be a smooth slab of white rubber.   The Schutt Bury-All type home plate is the most used throughout North America for higher level play.

MLB Wraps up Japan Series


What a week.  A lot of firsts even for this old dog.  Great games both pretty close. A’s came out ahead tonight so now the A’s and Mariners are tied for 1st place for about a week.    A lot of thanks go out to way to many people I cant remember for helping us pull this one off.  Tamba, Hokike and my man Kas.   Shawn took us through the first steps and chad Olsen played the key roll in making the event successful   Along with the masked man and moma boss.  Both supervisors that we nick named for fun

What a great crew of Japanese and American turf managers.   Couple other fun shots of the final game.

Then there is cepesdes

And my fav..UMPIRES TRAINING!

MLB Opener Series at the Tokyo Dome


Actually have been a bit busy with the field here the past few days.  4 games and 10 BP sessions in 3 days.   2 of the 4 games were sellouts at 40,000+ .  Rehearsals running pretty steady for the MLB Season Opener.  See below a few photos.

Giants Mariners game tonight  sell out crowd to watch Ichiro

Japan’s double BP batting cage system

don’t see this public announcement in to many ballparks.  In case of earthquake hold on to a seat.

just a lot going on in this shot.

Tokyo Dome Prepares for 2013 MLB Opening Series


Plans are well underway on the field and ballpark improvements at the Tokyo dome for the 2013 MLB Opening Series.  Teams arrive tomorrow,  practice saturday then back to back double headers before the opening games on weds and thursday between the A’s and Mariners .    Reconstruction of bullpens, homeplates, mounds, base pits, turf repairs, etc… took place over a 38hour time frame due to the event constraints around the opening series…The guys worked in shifts from the crew but there were a few Yomuri warriors  along with the  grounds supervisors that worked  straight through along with Chad-son an Murray-son.    The dome is a slightly pressurized facility that helps support the roof membrane that covers the stadium. Built in 1988 on the old Velodrome site,  you can still walk in the outfield and see the track railings.   Every time you leave the park your ears pop from the pressure in the building.

This is our 5th time working in the “egg”.   The staff has always been great and they recently made a few changes.  The head groundskeeper Hoshimoto an his trusty assistant Suzuki retired last year  after working 50+ years with yomuri giants and the Tokyo dome .  They look like they are both 40!   A true inspiration to sportsturf managers around the world.  50 years with one company!   Hoshimoto  was telling me about the earthquakes and how the dome was swaying last night.    What’s cool is they promoted Tamba and Kohike from within showing consistency and loyalty to the young guys on the crew.   The Dome is showing its age but at the sametime versatility to be able to host major events throughout the year similar to the rogers centre in toronto.

Going to be a fun event…i really like not having that big  tarp to mess with!

In Honor of St Paddy’s Day…Thanks you Mr Hops!


When you think of St. Patrick’s day you cant help but to think of green and beer.  Growing grass is fun but brewing beer is pretty fun too.  It’s actually not that difficult.  A little water, brewers yeast, malted barley and hops and away you go!  Pretty much anything with sugar in it will eventually ferment but the brewers yeast helps the fermentation process.    The flavor of beer comes from the hops  ( photo above is a hops field we drove by in Germany.)  As a novice brewer, hops tends to balance the sweetness of the malt.    You can find Hops in all sorts of flavors and aromas these days.  Hops also acts as a preservative in the beer and helps maintain that frothy head after a good pour.  Beer is one of the worlds oldest prepared drinks and is number 3 on the all time popular world drinks after water and tea.

One of the coolest beer dispensers I have seen is located in the Narita airport terminal in Japan.  Set the “chilled”  glass on the machine, push a button…and the glass goes to a perfect angle as the machine pours the beer perfectly every time.   Pretty cool.

That being said off to Japan for the Opening Series Preps between the Seattle Mariners and Oakland A’s !  Have a great St Patrick’s day and drink responsibly.

Its Spring…time to get GREEN!


Front_yard_photo_1Baseball Season Officially starts in less than 9 days with the MLB Opener in Japan on March 28th and it also signifies the time to Green up your Grass , especially for the folks who live north of the Mason Dixon line. If you are a competitive lawn man with the neighbor or just enjoy having green grass… you should be heading to Home depot or your local landscape shop this week to pick up your lawn products.  Temps are finally going to level out and your ground is going to start to thaw.

There are so many choices when you get there and the main thing is to keep it simple and go into the store with a plan.  Your plan!  Remember Different grasses + different climates = different turf programs so not all fertilizer programs are alike.

A little work this spring can keep your lawn healthier for the summer.  Here is a list of projects you may consider as you plan for a lush turf.

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

2.  The report will give you the specifics of materials to purchase and at what rate to apply the materials. Some even give you the exact brands.  Many lawns need Lime and the PH test will help determine the level of acidity in the lawn.  An average is 6.5 to 7.0

3.  De-thatch your lawn. Bluegrass and fescue lawns build thatch. Thatch is the layer of dead grass between the ground and where before the blade turns green. Average thatch is around 1/2 inch thick. If its thicker than 1/2inch rent a de-thatcher and rake up the thatch layer debris. If you didn’t dethatch in the fall now would be a pretty good time to thin out the turf… but make sure the last frost has finessed and start the process the day after.  Removing Thatch helps your seed to ground contact and also reduces summer disease problems.

4.  Lawns need aerification in the spring and fall.  This is a process of plugging holes in your yard with a machine…. (they used to use shoes for plugging lawns years ago… they had long nails on them) The process of renting a machine could get expensive depending on how big your yard is but nevertheless it will improve the root growth and relieve compaction of the soil.

5.  Seed your lawn. Broadcast your seed after the aerfication and de-thatching. Use a seed that is common in your region.  Most ballparks in the north are bluegrass blends.  Most lawns are a fescue/bluegrass blend.  The key is to make sure you get a variety of mixes.  A four way blend of seed is preferred.

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

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

8. Patch any areas that require sod or new grass.

For that quick green look in the spring I like to use Ironite on my home lawn in the spring.  If you can’t find Ironite , use a Milorganite.  Both of these products can be applied with your regular fertilization plan.  Get a good cyclone spreader…not a drop spreader and layout a path so you apply it evenly.

That should get you started for a healthy turf in 2012!  Good Luck!

2012 MLB Dominican League Field Maintenance Clinic


The MLB Dominican League Office in the D.R. hosted the 4th annual MLB Dominican League Field Maintenance Clinic this week at the Cleveland Indians Academy in Boca Chica.   We had a great turnout with about 45+ sportsturf managers and operators representing 26MLB clubs and 5 winter league baseball stadiums.

Also had a couple new guest speakers take part in the education sessions this year.   Trevor Vance Kansas City Royals Head GK, Tom Burns and Rene Asprion with TXI.

The MLB Academy development in the DR has been growing extensively the past 5 years.  Each club has invested in building new and  upgrading existing 2 or 3 field  complexes that sport great fields and facilities for the young athletes.

As a teacher by trade,  it is a wonderful feeling sharing knowledge and experience to help fellow turf managers around the world improve and develop their skills.

The Fish have arrived!


We literally checked out the new fishbowl in Miami today.   Make it very clear this is now the Miami Marlins not the Florida Marlins. Also more importantly we have green grass and today they put the fish in the tank!    Yes little sun fish,  tropical fish,  swimming around behind homeplate.  Pretty cool.

They really did  a great job of capturing the local culture’s flair for bright color schemes throughout the ballpark.   And as another touch,  they actually planted some ficus trees in  center field.  I would like to think (personally speaking) this was a gesture of homage towards the old municipal stadium in West Palm Beach that also had ficus trees in center field for 36 years….. considering big chunk of the Marlins staff are former Expo employees.    But really, its more  likely because its the fastest growing tree. shrub in south Florida.  And its green!

Tips on Designing a Professional Baseball Field


   

Below  are a few general tips and considerations that can be used as a template or checklist when planning and or  building a baseball field.  First and foremost.

  • Hire your sports turfmanager, or field consultant.
    • Develop maintenance budget and begin to order equipment. A reputable field contractor can install a professional level field in 45 days so it’s important to be ready to take care of it when they lay down the grass.
  • Secure the services of a qualified surveyor and field contractor and or field project director. Making small mistakes during the planning period could result in costly maintenance problems down the road.
  • If you’re sodding the field, locate the grass source and determine the type you need based on your area.  It’s important to do this early in the process so you can have the turf tested and growing properly before it harvested.
  • Determine elevation and grade lines to confirm what existing grades are and how they will change to allow your field to drain properly.
  • Have a soil analysis completed to find out what type of soils your site consists of.  You will want to send the soil sample to a certified testing service that understands the difference between testing soils for roads, builds and sports fields. They are very different tests.  They will test for particle size, percolation, soluble salts and PH.
  • Roto-till hard pan and subsurface soil if your site proves to be an impermeable surface.
  • Install irrigation system mainlines and outlets.
  • Excavate and pour concrete footings for light towers, dugouts, stands and locker room.
  • Install the drain tile system, drain outlets, sewer system.
  • Install electric lines, cables, outlets to light towers, dugouts and stands
  • Lay out stabilized areas; haul in aggregate for warning tracks, paths to home plate in front of dugouts, coach’s box, on deck, and fungo circles.
  • Replace or prepare native topsoil – from soil analysis formula, mix in soil structure amendments. This material can be stockpiled on site.  Again if you are building a sand based field system you will remove all of the soil from the existing field and replace it with a pea gravel drainage system and sand based root zone for the growing medium.
  • Sterilize native soil materials if possible. Taking care of the weeds in this material can save a lot of money trying to spray out weeds in the future.
  • Roto-till the soil for uniform and thorough mixing. Rework the area to grade elevations with laser grader
  • Recheck grade elevations with surveyor’s report.
  • Roll the area to a firm soil.
  • Install backstops, fences, scoreboard, flag pole, foul line marker.
  • Build a pitcher’s mound
  • Spread a starter fertilizer before laying down your grass
  • Finish grading with laser device.
  • Remeasure diamond and recheck grade elevations carefully.
  • Set the home plate, pitchers plate, base anchors.
  • Mark all grass lines, circles, arcs and boxes with chalk or lime.
  • Plant the area (seed, vegetatively, or sod)
  • Build your bullpens and install warning track
  • Finish construction and installation of dugouts, light towers, stands, locker rooms, showers, toilets, storage space, concession stands, and parking lots

New Stadium in Hermosillo for 2013 Caribbean World Series Underway



Checked out a pretty cool ballpark design plan in Hermosillo this past week.   Hector Espino Stadium is in its final year as home to the Naranjeros and the new ballpark is to be ready for the 2013 Caribbean World Series.  Hector Espino stadium has been home to the Winter league Naranjeros Club for many years and has also hosted Arizona Diamondback exhibition games .   The new ballpark to be known as Sonara Estadio  and  is strategically located in the center of a new planned development south of the city.

As you can see from the Pinacate Volcano photo above the new ballpark has some similarities.   Vincent Sagrestano head of CODESON, MPL President Omar Canizales, Arturo Lerma chief executive of Naranjeros, Juan Aguirre Manager of the Naranjera Organization, Enrique Mazon, club president, Ramon Ruiz league official, Carlos Gomez Project Manager , Marco Ruiz and Juan Macias Architects and city planners put a lot of thought into the design plan.  The goal to make a place for people to gather year around was focal point.  You’ve heard the saying “All roads lead to Rome” well all the roads in this  future suburb will lead to the new stadium.

The 15000 seat ballpark’s unique design represents the El Pinacate volcano which is about 500KM from Hermosillo in the State of Sonara. The Biosphere Reserve has an extensive history in the area as well as a cultural bond.  The ballpark will have a natural grass field adding more natural eco systems to the venue.  An exciting project!

How to Layout Homeplate


Preparing to build a field starts with homeplate.  The entire ballpark is determined by where the back tip of homeplate is located.   orientation is always discussed as an issue and what MLB recommends is a direction fo North-Northeast which works fine for ballparks North of the 3o latitude. Homeplate areas vary in size typically they are 26 ft in diameter however many make them larger to 30ft to reduce turf wear and tear.  Again 26ft is a recommendation. The actual home plate is made of rubber and has five points.  A regulation home plate is a 17-inch square with two corners of the square removed.  The dimensions of home plate are 17 in. by 8½ in. by 8½ in. by 12 in. X 12 in.  The home plate is set into the ground with the point at the intersection of the lines that extend from home plate to first base and third base.  The 17 in. side of the plate faces the pitcher.  The two 12 in. sides face the first and third baselines.  The top edge of the home plate should be bevelled (have a slanted edge).  Home plate is set into the ground, level with the ground.  The homeplate should be a smooth slab of white rubber.   The Schutt Bury-All type home plate is the most used throughout North America for higher level play.

Basic Steps for planning a Baseball Field


There are many steps to developing a baseball field and for it to be successful the site will require research.  It’s important to have input from all parties that will be involved with the field(s) development. The following are all very important components of the playing field that should be reviewed and discussed with all of the users. Before you move forward with these specifics, you should consider the following field development issues. They will help you define your goals in developing the field that best suits your budget and your needs.

  • Issues to consider when choosing a site for your baseball field?
    • Location of the area within a city, farm land,  city owned land
    • Field Orientation- Is the sun going to set in the wrong part of the field?
    • Accessibility
    • Convenience for players and public
    • Transportation issues
    • Parking
    • Safety of players and guests
    • Multi purpose use considerations
    • Opportunityfor future growth
  • For what age group or classification will this field or fields be used by?
  • How often will they be used and during what time of year
  • Type of construction.  High performance or Recreational
  • Who is going to maintain the field?
    • Value engineering
    • Cost of development –Design services
    • Value Engineering (Again)
    • Cost of maintenance
  • Is the facility to be used for high level play?
  • Field Lighting and at what level.
  • Dugouts, fencing, batters eyes etc…
  • Topography of the existing areas
  • Natural drainage of the area
  • Amount of grading and fill necessary
  • Soil of the area (the foundation subsoil and surface topsoil)
  • Have they completed an soil borings to evaluate sub soil conditions
  • Condition of existing turf
  • Utilities, Electricity , Sewage
  • Stormwater issues and flood plain concerns.
  • Construction Time Line – When do you plan to have the field used for play?
  • Location of the area – Community, downtown, etc…
  • Accessibility for public, deliveries etc.
  • Transportation issues- traffic bus schedules, train etc..
  • Hotels- what is the closest and can they provide your needs for tournaments
  • Synthetic or Natural turf
  • Safety

Be sure to reach out to MLB reources for additonal materials to help with your baseball field  development.  There are a lot of sources on the internet some that are accurate and some that are not.

National Mall Turf Renovation update


The National Mall turf renovation is well underway with sod planned for April.  The pump station for the irrigation system is being installed along with the sub-drains in the first turf panel closest to the Capitol.  Since the drains are placed 4feet in the ground they will be tough to hit with all the tent stakes used to erect structures for the 3000 events the mall handles annually.  Its been determined the panels will be sodded in this phase using a 3 way blend of fescue.  The extremely mild winter in DC has allowed for some progress in the renovation. 

The NPS put up some panels around the site to help educate the public as to what is going on and why the area is blocked off from use. 

The irrigation pump station is huge.  It will be pumping from the four  250,000 gallon cisterns to reduce the use of city water.

Marlins Ballpark Looking Good


Stopped into check out the new ballpark in Miami and its amazing to see how far the stadium has come along since my last review.  The venue is on schedule with workers putting the final details on the facility.  The field is almost completed and more importantly they have their head GK on board Chad Mulholland who was an asst. in Philly.  In a week or so the field will be green as the Celebration Bermuda turf will be laid in big rolls to cover the straight sand rootzone mix.  With a retractable roof he will have some relief from the typical showers that you have in southern florida.  Greg Jones one of our previous turf managers at York will be one of Chad’s assistants this year.   Its great to see guys move up the ladder and to achieve their professional goals.

Paying it forward


Big week for the Sports Turf  Managers Association   (STMA) Our conference starts this week in long beach ca.  This will be my 25th year attending the conferences.  Quiet a bit has  changed and for the better.  Great leadership and our industry staying true north with a vision to educate and share information about making sports fields safer and playable around the world has allowed our numbers to grow.  When I started to become really involved with the association was in 1991,   I think we had about 100 people show up at the conference in Vero beach.  Now its in the thousands.

I have always enjoyed teaching and sharing what I have learned over the years in baseball.  I recall sharing stories of my own turf problems and field issues with so many that its difficult to remember the number of times others shared their insight to make a project better or a field safer that i was involved with.  It’s all about paying it forward.  The expression “pay it forward” is used to describe the concept of asking that a good turn be repaid by having it done to others instead.  This conference is all about sharing ideas and learning new ones from others.

This past year we did several sports turf clinics around the world and this year we have a bit larger docket of clinics in the works.  I believe we are up to 6 on paper.   Dont want to let the cat out of the bag but they are all international.  Its going to be a fun year with the MLB Opener in Japan, the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers and several new ballparks developing outside the USA.  Looking forward to sharing those experiences and many others with everyone this year.

Hoping everyone has a great and prosperous new year.

MLB Groundskeeper Hall Of Fame Trophy Named for Gary Vanden Berg


In a great show of respect for Gary a group of MLB Groundskeepers selected a couple of sport turf industry greats in the trophy’s inaugural year.  George Toma and Emil Bossard were announced as this years recipients for their outstanding contributions to the game and the sportsturf industry.   I never had the pleasure of meeting Emil but  have spent a little time with George over the years at conferences and turf events.  He is a true inspiration to the world of groundskeeping.  The Hall of fame committee members are Bill Deacon Mets, Trevor Vance and Justin Scott Royals, Bob Christofferson Mariners and Mark Razum Rockies.    

To be considered for induction in the MLB Groundskeeper Hall of Fame, a person must have made a significant contribution to the sportsturf industry at the major league level and has not been employed full-time in the profession for at least 5 years.

Gary was one of the kindest people in the sportsturf industry.  Always one to answer a question or talk about his field.  He will be missed by many. Naming this award in his honor was truly an easy selection as it passed unanimously by the association members.

HO HO HO!!


Tis the season to be jolly…and thankful…I hope everyone takes a well deserved break, enjoy the holidays and family time.    ( Tree Above is the final at old yankee stadium! )

2011 was a busy year for STS.  All Star  GAmes  in Taiwan, Panama’s BAseball World Cup, Field reviews and plans in Lagos de Moreno for the Pan Am games.  On the homefront we were quite busy with the National MAll, ODP clubs SI Yanks, the Greenjackets etc… Now we prepare for 2012.  Already quite a bit rolling with he MLB Opener in Japan and the World Baseball Classic Qualifier.    

Gave a fun presentation at the IBAF Congress meeting in Dallas this month.  We are working on a draft of the plan we hope to roll out the first of the year after we get approvals from IBAF and MLB. 

Hoping everyone has a blessed Christmas.  Also Glad to hear most of our troops are heading home from Iraq although there are quite a few still over in Afghanistan.  Thoughts and prayers with them and their families.

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