Baseball 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!
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.
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.
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!
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 is harvested.
- Determine elevation and grade lines to confirm existing grades and how they will change to allow your field to drain properly.
- Have a soil analysis completed to find out what type of soils you are dealing with. 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. etc…
- Roto-till hard pan and subsurface soil if your site proves to be an impermeable surface.
- Determine irrigation system mainlines and outlets.
- Excavate and pour concrete footings for light towers, dugouts, stands and locker room.
- Determine the drain tile system, drain outlets, sewer system.
- Now is the time to 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.
- Now would be a good time to install the backstops, fences, scoreboard, flag pole, foul line marker.
- Build the install homeplate pin and the 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, sprigs, 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 lot
The success of your field will depend on three factors. How it was built, how much it will be used, and how it will be maintained. These 3 pieces are critical to define before you put a shovel in the ground!
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!
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.
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?
- Convenience for players and public
- Transportation issues
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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