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.

Olympic Baseball Flashback


As we approach the 2012 Games in London it is sad to say that Baseball and Softball will not be included as a sport.  People have asked about the  upcoming games and why baseball will not be part of the competition…its a tough subject to discuss.  Homebush stadium (above) still remains a venue but not for baseball.   However the ABL is up and running and the growth of the game in Australia has been tremendous over the past 10 years.   Thanks to a great  Ausie groundcrew led by Jack and Matty Cairns and a few american blokes (Chad Olsen, Tim Moore, Budgie Clark) we were able to mow the Olympic rings into the outfield grass. 

There is a very small plaque about 8inchs by 4inches glued to a column in the seating bowl that states the stadium was an Olympic venue. (above).  After the 2000 games it reverted back to a showgrounds.   It made a great ballpark for the games.   IBAF ( International BAseball Federation) headquarters is hard at work planning a strategy to reinstate baseball back into the Olympics for future games.  President Fricarri has made it the highest priority for the organization as it means so much to developing the game around the world.  The IOC process to vote in new sports for the games in 2020 is underway. log on to IBAF.org an support the reinstatement initiative.

Completely forgot about this meet and greet with a couple of Toms at the 2000 Sydney Olympics where Tommy L. guided the USA team to a Gold Medal win.  Great baseball memories.

Happy Thanksgiving


A day of thanks. To say I’m thankful for my family is an understatement. Im sure all of our guys have similar feelings. These past several months have been pretty crazy. All the guys on our brick man sports turf team along with a group of other major and minor league guys pulled off some pretty crazy projects. We were in Australia, Mexico, Panama and Taiwan all at the same time. Europe tours, Asia evaluations a lot of travel and memories to share with our friends and family. In many of the countries we have worked there are many who make do with very little. In many ways it’s very humbling and inspirational at the same time.

Thanksgiving is kind of our slow down time but this year it’s probably going to be a bit later. Nevertheless we have a lot to be thankful for. Our military and troops in Afghanistan, our missionaries serving the needy in poor countries… It’s a crazy world.

have a safe and wonderful thanksgiving.

MLB All Star Tour in Taiwan shifts to Taichung City


Taiwan is a small island with 16 baseball stadiums.  Some of the parks are Triple A level and could host major baseball events.  Couple that with baseball crazed fans and you have a wonderful fun-loving culture of baseball.   Today we headed south to play in Taichung after completing a rain shortened game the night before in Zingzuan Stadium, New Taipei City. Photo above are the guys from Zingzuan.  great group and a great job buy the youth baseball team. 

The All Stars are 2-0 and last night’s game in Taichung’s intercontinental field was a close one up to the final couple innings before the MLB guys scored a couple making it 5-3,

Checked out the Pig on a spit in the stands. Literally right behind in the mid level seats section. Open fire in the stands, the works.   A real ballpark pig pickin!

Many of you know that Taiwan is considered the land of the scooters.  There are millions on the road daily outnumbering cars 3 to 1.  Well it appears Mr. Morse from the Nationals was inspired and picked up a scooter helmet which he was sporting during BP.  These guys are really having fun.  It’s a good mix. 

Fields are holding up.  Infields are soft due to the lack of clay on the island which is requiring extra dragging and watering and rolling etc… but the guys are doing a great job.  Greg ( Jones) , Eric and Ryan.  Keep it up!

Happy Halloween from Taiwan!


pumpkin.JPG

Its going to be all treats this Halloween for the Rangers and Cards.    Congrats to both teams.   My kids ( college)  thought it would be cool to do a pumpkin with the MLB logo.  Actually found a site that has the rangers pumkin stencil.  But not one for the MLB logo. http://mlb.mlb.com/tex/fan_forum/pumpkin_stencils.jsp

MLB  Players are on there way to Taiwan for the All Star Tour from CA. with first practice tomorrow at New Taipei City Stadium.

Taiwan’s Ballparks Prepare for 2011 MLB All-Star Tour


The MLB All Stars arrive this Sunday in Taiwan to play the Chinese Taipei National Team in a 5 game series at 3 ballparks across the country.   Xinzhuang Baseball Stadium in Taipei, Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung and Kaohsiung National Stadium in Kaohsiung will each host games.  With a practice session on Monday in Zinzhuang  and a game on Tuesday we have been pretty busy helping our friends in Taiwan prepare the fields and ballparks for the event.  The last All star tour was in Japan , I believe in 2006 and I can’t recall the last MLB All star tour that was in  Taiwan however we did play a couple Dodger Games here last year. 

The Xinzhuang Baseball  has hosted several World Cup Baseball events dating back to when I was here in 2001.  They actually had an all clay  infield  that first series. Coming back in 2007 for the Baseball world Cup they replaced the infield clay with grass and upgraded maintenance etc..  Its an older park better known as Xinzhuang Baseball “Court” in New Taipei City.  They also call it Taipei City stadium and seats about 14000.

The Intercontinental Stadium in Taichung is a larger ballpark at about 19000 and has seen numerous Major events.  A unique design of an iron sculpture arcs over the stadium. It’s a natural turf field as well with typical 330 distances down the lines and 400 to center but this ballpark plays big.  Taichung has 2 other stadiums that are also pretty nice.C Chengcing Stadium  in Kaohsiung hosted the Dodgers series last year and is also ongoing some minor upgrades for this event. The largest park of the series at 25000 it will see the final two games of the event. We have had  a few guys seasoned vets working the parks helping preparations. Greg Jones from the revolution ballpark is in Taichung, Ryan Woodley from the Staten Island Yankees Ballpark in Kaohsiung and Eric Ogden who helped us with the 2007 World Cup in Europe and Daytona Beach.

Having worked numerous tournaments here in Taiwan the people are crazy about the game .  Its going to be a fun event and the country is really excited to see these games.

Dutch Honkball team win Gold at World Cup


After a 3 hour rain delay and 6 1/2 tarp pulls the Dutch started the gold medal game in panama at 840pm and ended it with a win over Cuba. What a performance by both clubs as the final score was 2-1. A light rain fell on the field the entire night and for a while it seemed the game would never start but with a great effort by the tarp crew at Rodney Carew stadium we were able to out maneuver the rain. Earlier in the afternoon the USA vs canada bronze medal game was called off due to rain and what was thought to be a tie for 3rd actually became a win for Canada because they beat USA in pool play.

This is the second time i have witnessed the Dutch team win a tournament when they were not favored to win anything.  The 2009 World Baseball Classic was another great win for the club after defeating the DR twice.   The win at the Baseball World Cup should prove this country is a  baseball power.  All in all a great day for international baseball. Having the Netherlands win the gold is just another checkpoint for how far the game has developed outside of it’s origins.

World Cup Baseball Tourney down to 8 teams


Sad to see some teams not make it to the second round of these tournaments but you know what they say. Thats  baseball!  You never know.    I was in Lagos De Moreno yesterday checking on progress at the Pan American stadium for the next tournament. ( photo below)   They still have some work to do.  In Toronto last friday checking on 2015 sites for the Pan am games.   And then back to Panama today. 

Rico Cedeno stadium in Chitre has USA and Cuba going at it tonight while Ven vs Pan at  Omar Torrijos stadium in Santiago.  Looks like Panama has opened that one up.  Giving Rodney Carew stadium in Panama a couple of day rest from heavy use will help us for the final 6 games.  It’s ironic that our two rainouts have been USA games…but they were more like flood outs.   Ryan Woodley provided some photos of his work down at Chitre. actually a combination of several guys work.  Ballpark is holding up well.   Thanks again to Tracy and Chad kropff for coming down to help out.

2011 Baseball World Cup Opening


WOW what a show.  Probably one of the coolest I’ve seen in a while.  Laser lights, 300 dancers, 16 singers, 60x 40 stage.  and actors.  Fireworks, and field fire works.. On and off the field with the stage and portafloor quickly and it didn’t rain. 

Speaking of rain  we had it come down in biblical proportions… not once but twice in 24hrs the following day.  The stadium and field were flooded as were the dugouts, locker rooms, and lower concourse.  A storm water system upgrade is needed at this old park but in true Panamanian style, they broke out the squegees and pumps and cleaned it up pretty quickly.  The field drains fair but again its old and when you play a series of games  in the wettest month of the year you can expect there will be rain delays and challenges.

We have been shuffling guys around the four ballparks.  In order to have a successful tournament we needed to bring in some sportsturf managers to help the local grounds staff with construction and maintenance of the fields.  Everyone is pretty happy with the facilities.   Chad Kropff came in and headed to Aguadulce, Tracy Schneweis Came in today and is headed to Chitre.  Chad and Joe at Panama and Darrell Lemmer is holding down the fort in Santiago.  All good and each of them have their work cut out with all the rain.

PR vs USA game was a thriller. PR ended up on top as they went to the  IBAF  tie breaker rule in the top of the 10th when USA tied it up in the bottom of the 9th.   In Beijing they started the tiebreaker in the 11th . basically placing 2 players on 1st and 2nd at the start of each teams batting order.  

Yesterday, USA bounced back and won over Chinese Taipei last night in Aguadulce.  Check out the games on http://www.ibaf.livesport.tv/?WT.mc_id=ibafofficial

Pan American Games in Lagos De Moreno


Ive had a couple emails about the status of the venue in Lagos. We have been helping the LOC and the federation via phone and a couple site visits in the development of the ballpark during the past few months.  At this point, The Mexican federation is assisting the Pan- American games Commission in preparing the field of play and the over all operations of the venue during the tournament that begins in 2 weeks.

Wishing them much luck with the tournament as it will be a difficult competition due to the fact they are only using 1 field.

Final preps underway for 2011 Baseball World Cup


The 2011 Baseball World Cup is a couple of days from starting here in Panama.  The 16 team tournament runs from Oct 2-16.   When I first came to see the ballparks back in March as part of the Winter League Evaluations,  I have watched  them transform into some nice venues for the future of the game in this country.  New Lights, Dugouts, Locker rooms fields padding maintenance equipment etc etc…  

We have had a few guys working here for while. Just Wondering if they should apply for dual citizenship.  Chad Olsen, Kevin  Moses and   Joe Skrabek have been rolling between venues.  Dennis Klein came down to help for a few days and Ryan Woodley came in Monday.    We have another group coming in this weekend.  With 4 stadium and a lot of rain we have finally turned the corner at a couple of parks.  Santiago and Aguadulce came out very nice. Chitre didn’t have as much field renovation work but had dugout and light upgrades.   hoping mother nature will give us some help. 

 I’ve been back and forth between Lagos de Moreno, USA and Panama seeing what will be happening with the much-needed upgrades at the Pan- american stadium near Guadalajara.    Have a few guys heading to Taiwan to prep for the MLB AllStar Tour in 3 different ballparks around the country.   That one starts up at the end of the month.   Its great have a awesome team and great friends in the industry to help make these tournaments successful.   Hats off the Pandeportes and the LOC for the tournament. 

If you want to watch some of the games on the web or game tracker check out this link as it continues to update with info http://www.ibaf.org/en/news/2011/09/29/ibaf-has-the-baseball-world-cup-covered/f9ba50c6-e230-46b2-8946-197249266155

 

 

Checking Out London’s 2012 Olympic Stadium


During this past week I was on a bit of a whirlwind Europe tour taking in some venue and city tours, assessments, etc..  Amsterdam, Barcelona, Regensburg, Prague and London.   A highlight of the trip was seeing the Olympic stadium in Canary Wharf-London.   A very simple yet impressive structure with 82000 seats.  As with all the Olympic venues each has some type of tower located in and around the Olympic stadium.  The “orbit” is being constructed at the Olympic Park and from what I heard on the streets it has drawn mixed reviews.  I think it looks pretty cool and is a mathematical miracle based on the unique design.   Cant wait to see it when its finished.

In comparison the Olympic Tower built in Barcelona is pretty simple yet provides a wonderful view of the city.

Its turning green at Omar Torrijos Stadium


Over the past couple days we have been overseeing the zoysia sod installation on one of the 4 fields in Panama for the upcoming baseball world cup. It’s exciting to witness the progress of these fields.  Here at Omar Torrijos Stadium, Santiago they installed a new drainage system, irrigation a sandy loam soil over gravel .  With the rain they receive in this country drainage is key.  Next stop for sod. Aguadulce.

Panama Ballparks Preparing for World Cup


We are rolling along in Panama with ballpark improvements for the Baseball World Cup.  Whenever we work in other countries there is always some sort of challenge which makes for some exciting ties leading up to the event. 

Two of the 4 stadiums to be used are receiving totally new fields. Three of the stadiums are upgrading locker rooms, dugouts, fencing and scoreboards.  All of the ballparks are receiving new lights to some degree.  The 2011 Baseball World Cup is the first Major baseball event being played in the national stadium since the 2003 Pre Olympic qualifier for Athens.   

The national stadium is receiving some new field upgrades as will the stadium in Chitre.   Following this wonderful tournament the country’s MLB  Winter league season will begin as provisional members.   These ballpark upgrades will only bring more major baseball events to Panama as the sports continues to grow.  The city, the culture and especially the people are truly remarkable.  Plan now to come down for some great baseball in October.  

Chad and I took a little time to taste the local coconut water.  Outstanding!

A Few Pro Ballparks Beating the Summer Heat


This summer has been hot and its not quite over. The guys in the Northeast growing bluegrass have been under the gun trying to keep there parks looking nice while having numerous events.  Below are a few ballpark photos from our sportsturf team of their fields. Congrats guys.

Ryan Woodleys Ballpark in Staten Island

Kevin Moses’s and his crew’s handy work in Camden NJ

Greg Jones artwork in York Pa.

Anthony DeFao’s  field in Lancaster Pa.

 

Taking a Look at Taiwan’s Baseball Stadiums


It’s always great to visit a country that loves baseball. Taiwan is way up on that list. They really love the game. We are looking at a few ballparks in Taiwan for some potential games in the near future. Checked out the stadium in Xingzuan District in New Taipei City.  It’s a  11000 seat ballpark with bermuda grass.  It was built in 1997 and renovated in 2003 which included removing the all infield clay and installing infield grass.  Yesterday we went through intercontinental Stadium in Taichung City.  Another nice ballpark with seating for 19000 people and today we are going through Kaohsiung stadium.  Its a 20,000+ ballpark where we hosted a game with the L.A. Dodgers in 2010.  Great crowd and wonderful but older venue.  

Its going to be a busy fall for the Brickman Sportsturf team and our Subs!   World Cup tournaments in Panama, Pan American Games in Guadalajara and a potential  MLB All Star throughout Asia will keep us rolling pretty hard from September till mid November.

Tips on Mowing Summer Lawns


When and How to Mow your lawn in the summer months can be tricky especially those folks with bluegrass. Here are a few tips to keeping your turf the best it can be. This mower above was used in Colombia to cut the entire baseball field. Not the best use of equipment but they made it work.

Mow after the dew has dried and keep it “high”: To many times we see where people are trying to keep their lawns at a 1 or 2 inch height during the heat of the summer. If you have all the right tools and irrigation equipment that pro ballparks have that’s one thing if not raise the height of the mower up to 3 inches and mow once a week or as needed. Don’t mow dead or brown grass and never cut more than a 1/3 of the blade at one time.

Your Mower: Keep that blade sharp and the mower clean. It’s a good time to see some fungus during hot humid mornings so mow when the grass is dry and not during the heat of the day. Keeping your mower blade sharp also increases the life of that machine. The type of mower really depends on the size of your lawn. A good rule of thumb is if you have a yard larger than 500sqft you should consider something with a wider cut. Also the terrain of your lawn will play into the type of mower you may need

Keep your yard clean – remove branches stones dog bones and doggy-do regularly. Make sure you mark all the pipes or half buried rocks in your lawn too. Double check the height of the mowing wheels before starting to mow. As mentioned warm season grasses like Bermudas are at or less. Fescues can be cut above 3 inches and its good to keep blue grasses close to 3 inches

Whats the best mow pattern - Keep your lines straight as possible and don’t do circles as the mower tends to tilt and scalp the lawn . Move along a good pace not walking slowly. The simple back and forth pattern is the best. Boxing out is of but longer mow lines are easier to follow and you miss less grass. Do a couple of laps around trees or shrubs to reduce the weed eater damage to tree trunks. Using the width of the mower base as you cut may seem like you will be done quicker but actually if you overlap cuts, your mower will run more efficiently and you will not miss strips. You can do it either way but remember it’s not a race.

Watering – Irrigating grass in the summer is best in the morning. If you can’t water and your lawn turns brown or white that might not mean its dead. The roots will cut off supply to the leaf blades and are trying to store food until water returns.

Quick tips for lawn mowing :

1. When your Push mowing a slope always go side to side not up and down.. Go side to side when your using a riding mower but be careful the slope isn’t to steep.

2. Once you are finished mowing wash that mower off and pick up any clumps of grass . This will help reduce dead spots.
3. Be safe. That shoot that throws your grass out should always be pointed away from people, cars etc.

4. Dont cut wet grass. You will have more clogging and clumps which could make you slip and fall. Mowing wet turf can also cause fungal disease.

5. Mowing your lawn is good excercise so keep it fun and don’t forget to apply sun screen to avoid skin damage

 

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