Results tagged ‘ Groundskeeping ’

Natural Grass Facts for Sports


panama 2014 field photo

Back in 2005 I started Blogging for MLB.com.  My good friend Mark Newman thought a grounds keeping blog might be pretty unique to provide information to folks around the world related to taking care of sports fields and or your homelawn.   I’ve been asked some fun questions about my blog ( that I write out of the love for educating folks about the sportsturf industry).   Looking back at 2005 when I started at a few of the early blog stories , I came across one that highlighted some facts about natural grass.  A lot has happened in 9 years but one constant has been the evolution of better, stronger and more durable turfgrasses for our baseball fields.

During this crazy spring weather where we are seeing temps go from 80 degrees to 30 with snow OVERNIGHT,  i take my hat off to all the natural grass turf managers that get those fields ready everyday for the teams.  It’s a tough job and the average person has no idea what happens behind the scenes on a daily basis.  Not to mention the stress of making sure the field is safe for your players day in and day out.  Salud!

phase 1 complete!

Below are a few excerpts from the 2005 blog about some  turfgrass facts.

Blue grass, Bermuda grass, Zoysia, Buffalo, Rye grass, bent grass, Tifsport, 419, St Augustine, Bahia, 318, k-31, Limousine, U-3, Tifway, Fescue, Creeping red etc…  I could go on for days…Which one of these is not a real grass?   U-3 is what you call three grasses in your yard and you don’t know what they are!

Breaking it down to the basics:  Grass selection is based on Cool Season and Warm Season grasses and the mysterious transition zone.  Cool season grasses is what you have in your lawn from about the Maryland/Pennsylvania border north and warm season grasses start in Virginia and go south South. The transition line varies across the states. There are pockets in Virginia, Maryland, Texas and even Utah that you can grow both types…which explains the “transition zone”.  Picking your grass should begin with the zone you are in.  From that point you can get really creative with 1000’s of varieties of grasses.  The bottom line…keep it simple.  Don’t go crazy with a bunch of different seed choices in your lawn.  That could lead to a bunch of fungus problems.  2 or 3 varieties is OK but more than that is probably not necessary.

Here are some fun grass facts you can throw at the neighbor while you are out working in your lawn!

FACT- The first white house lawnmower. Washington and Jefferson used sheep to keep the lawn under control!

FACT- “There are over 200 varieties of tall type fescues in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Delaware.  The type everyone knows about in the store and probably the first type…was K-31.

FACT- The grass seed state is Oregon with sales over 300+ million per year.

FACT- In the 1800’s golf courses in the UK were infected with a pests called ….. Earth worms!  This resulted in some of the great courses in Scotland developing along the seashores. Worms do not care for the salty/sandy soils.  In the US, night crawlers are actually good for the earth!

FACT – Groundskeeping is actually Mankinds first profession:  Genesis 2:15 …. The LORD God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it.  

FACT- First lawnmower. invented by Edwin Budding in the early 19Th century. In 1870, Elwood McGuire designed a mower that made a big impact on the homeowner. By 1885, the USA was building 50,000 push mowers a year and shipping them everywhere.

FACT- A survey in 1994 listed 43 million acres of turf in the US.

FACT- The cooling power of grass!  8 average front lawns have the cooling power of 70 tons of air conditioning. (The average home has a 3 to 4 ton central unit)

FACT- Fresh Air… a 50×50 square pieces of grass generates enough oxygen for a family of four.  As mother natures filter it absorbs carbon monoxide, nitrates and hydrogen fluoride and releases oxygen.

FACT- Last one – A test was conducted by dropping 12 eggs onto a dense small piece of natural grass from 11 feet. NONE BROKE!  On a thin turf piece 8 broke…. and all 12 broke when dropped from 18 inches onto a rubberized track. 

Have fun!!

A Christmas Groundskeeper Story


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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1st Field Clinic in Cuba Builds Relationships


As part of the USA-Cuba Friendly Game Series this week,  we held the 1st MLB Field Clinic in Havana this week.  The Cuban Baseball Federation invited us to lecture on baseball field maintenance at Estadio Latino Americano.  All 16 pro clubs from the country had representation at the clinic.  What these guys have to work with would amaze many of you.  Picture yourself having only a residential riding mower, 4 rakes, 4 shovels, no tarp, no clay, no soil conditioner, weed control, ant control, etc…. to prepare for an international tournament in front of thousands of people.    These guys do this everyday.  I just love the passion the people in Cuba exhibit for the game of baseball.  That passion was also  evident in the groundskeepers that care for the fields.   I have had the privilege of traveling to this country several times.

It was the first time all these guys were together and you would have thought they had known each other forever.  We did a slide show to talk about materials and maintenance processes then went to the field for hands on training. Typically hands-on means most are watching but this event had all of the guys heavily involved.  They really enjoyed the Sports Turf Management slides ( WWW.STMA.ORG ) as they were translated in Spanish.   Such a great exchange between friends in sportsturf.  Hearing stories about their fields and issues was no different than sitting in a room with my peers in the states.

They have created a pretty good clay for the island.  Drains well and is designed to wick water past a certain point.  Then it will firm up.  On opening night of the series, we had an inch of rain and puddles of water all over the infield.  With no big tarp to cover the field and we still played in under two hours.

Fun stuff.   Thanks to Ellier, Chad, Juan and the entire Latino Americano grounds crew for their  help.

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.

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