Results tagged ‘ Major League Baseball ’
This past Thursday MLB Hosted its First Field maintenance Clinic in Culiacan Mexico for the mexican winter clubs. The event was Sponsored by Diamond Pro products. With a turn out of 30+ Chad Olsen and Josh Marden Brickman Sportsturf Sportsturf Managers went over the basics of field maintenance throughout the day. Culiacan is home of the Tometaros or “‘Tomato Growers” . Thanks for attending the event.
What makes a baseball field so beautiful is in the eyes of the beholder but how it becomes that lush field of manicured grass is all about the sportsturf manager and his staff. (For those old-timers groundskeepers are now called sports turf managers.) Baseball fields haven’t changed drastically since the 1840s back when the sport was known as knickerbockers. The bases were measured at 90ft then and they remain that distance today. The mound however has changed quite a bit. In the last 20 years, field playing surfaces for all levels have improved tremendously, Standards have increased and the need for safety was stressed. even with all of the new fancy equipment and field protection materials there is still one part of the field that remains a true art. Managing the clays. The infield mound and homeplate. To hard or to soft. It’s all about moisture and how your field takes the water during certain times of the year. Mother nature has a calendar but she will sometimes tweak it a bit and throw everyone a curve like the Yankees practicing in a snow fall a couple of days ago. The turf managers in the north had a pretty rough winter and those fields are green and ready. I’ve blogged a bit about lot of How to grow your fields etc… but each spring seeing our fields go green after harsh winters is really amazing. The amount of hours and time spent on maintaining these fields is immense.
With the 2011 Baseball season officially underway we need to say thanks to our Spring training site ground crews for getting the guys ready for the season and the job our MLB and Minor League clubs are preparing to begin. Have a great season!
Although its winter, Baseball season is closer than we think and now is the time to plan for the new ball yard! People have been sending me
some baseball field construction questions about “How to build….the field…the mound….the infield
etc..? Ive posted a few blogs over the years about these tasks but before you get into the details lets talk about the basics.
First and foremost; Building a baseball field takes planning and unfortunately sometimes
more money than you may have in your budget. One of the first questions to ask yourself is … Do you have enough land or property and will be the field
be oriented properly? A field is about 100,000 sq ft but when you add parking, backstops, dugouts bullpens etc. this number creeps up to 200,000 sq ft quickly. I would also suggest the following questions be
asked of those involved before you put a shovel in the ground.
1. Usage of the field: Who? How much? and when? These questions will guide you towards the level of field you will need to build.
2. What Type of Grass: Natural…Bluegrass or Bermuda?…or synthetic? A big push on synthetics lately have had a lot of folks going that direction but be very cautious when considering this choice as there is still extensive maintenance to the field and eventually you need to change the turf after the warranty runs out. To clarify – synthetic has its place in the sports industry but just do your homework.
3. How much money do we have? That’s a loaded
question but after the previous questions it is time to bring the
accountant in! Where can we find the money to build the field we want?
Are there Grants? Private? Municipal Funds? Donations?
4. Who will maintain the new field and at what level ?
In house maintenance? Outsource maintenance? Again …budget the
entire field including maintenance operations before you build it.
Example: Don’t build a Ferrari when you don’t have the budget to
take care of it. Taking care of a high performance sports field takes a
lot of money
5. Selecting someone to design and build it? Again..
its an examination of your internal resources and if you have staff
that understands how to develop a design or construction
specification thats great. Designing your new field with the right goals for usage
is what you should be shooting for. Hiring a reputable firm to design
your field is critical to the success of the field.
6. Should you hire a consultant for owners representation?
Unless you have a sportsturf manager in your organization that has had experience the design ad development of sports fields it may be a good idea to bring in someone to help out. 7. Should we consider asking for Sponsorships to help offset material
costs? There are venodrs out there tat will reduce pricing of materials to land a long time agreement but they are limited due to the economic climate.
8. Can the Community help? Have you heard of the MLB’s Baseball
Tomorrow Fund? A great place to start looking for possible grants to help you subsidize your field construction
Once you have decided on some of the issues above and hired a
reputable sports field contractor to install your field, You will be on
your way towards building your field of dreams.
Baseball’s mound has evolved over the years. Back in the late 1800s, it was 45 feet from home plate and the pitcher could take a couple of steps with the ball when throwing. Later, the pitcher had a 6-foot-square box as the designated area and had to stay within that box when throwing. The mound was initially defined in the rules in the early 1900s with the pitching rubber at a height of no more than 15 inches above home plate. Because mounds were at varying heights up to 15 inches, the rule was changed in the 1950s, setting 15 inches as the uniform height. Baseball became a pitcher’s game. In the late 1960s, pitcher Bob Gibson had an ERA of 1.12 and MLB’s top hitter, Carl Yastrzemski, was batting .301. During the 1968 season, over one-fifth of all MLB games were shutouts. The rule was officially changed in 1969, establishing the height of the pitching rubber at 10 inches above home plate–period–not 10 inches above the grass. That rule changed the way the game was played. At 15 inches, pitchers were told to “stand tall and fall.” With the change to 10 inches, it became “drop and drive.” The pitchers would drop down and push off from their right or left leg.
That 10-inch height is mandatory for major and minor league baseball, NCAA Baseball and most high school programs. (Check the official governing body for rules at each level of play.)
This is the method I use for new construction or total reconstruction of a mound. There are many other methods, but I’ve found this is the simplest way.
You’ll need a plate compactor, hand tamp, landscape rake, shovel, level board, hose and a water source. I prefer the professional block-type, four-way pitching rubber. You can flip it each year and get four years of use from it.
The most important thing you need is the clay. I suggest using two types: a harder clay on the plateau and landing area and your regular infield mix for the sides and back of the mound. The harder mix has more clay, with a typical mix about 40 percent sand, 40 to 50 percent clay and 10 to 20 percent silt. The infield mix for the rest of the mound is typically about 60 percent sand, 30 percent clay and 10 percent silt. Suppliers offer several options in bagged mound mixes, some of which come partially moist, some almost muddy and some as dry as desert sand. Be aware of those factors as you evaluate your clay sources. Any of the commercially bagged, vendor-provided mound mixes are heavy in clay and good to work with. When you purchase the material from a vendor, you know you’ll be getting the same thing each time. Bricks are also available for the harder clay. Some people prefer these, which are packaged moist and ready to go into the ground. Others prefer the bagged mixes for more flexibility in establishing moisture levels.
You’ll want to have 8 to 10 tons of clay available to build the mound; 2 tons of the harder clay and 6 to 8 tons of the infield mix. You’ll need wheelbarrows or utility vehicles for loading and unloading it–and people to help move it.
The most accurate way to set your distances and heights is to use a transit with a laser. If you don’t have access to this, you can use a string line run between steel spikes with a bubble level that you clip onto the string. Or, you can build a slope board.
Tackling the task
Plan for the proper orientation when constructing a new field or when building a mound for practice purposes. You’ll want the line from home plate through the pitcher’s mound to second base to run east-northeast so the batter isn’t looking into the sun when facing the pitcher. As you prepare to construct the mound, use the transit and laser or string lines to make sure home plate, the pitcher’s mound and second base are accurately aligned and everything is square.
For a regulation MLB field, the distance from the back of the home plate to the front of the pitching rubber is 60 feet 6 inches. The typical pitcher’s mound is an 18-foot circle with the center of the pitching mound 18 inches in front of the pitching rubber. That makes the measurement from the back of the home plate to the center of the pitcher’s mound 59 feet. Too often, the rubber is accidentally placed in the center of the pitcher’s mound so be sure you have the measurements right.
If you’re using the string line, place one steel spike behind the pitching rubber location and one just beyond home plate. Put a pin at the 59-foot point in the center of the mound area and stretch a 9-foot line out from it, moving it all around the pin to mark the outer line of the 18-foot circle. If the grass is already in place, protect it with geotextile and plywood while you’re building the mound.
Leave the pin in the center and place a second pin where the pitching rubber is going to be and mark the pin at 10 inches above home plate. Then, start bringing in the clay to form the base of the mound. Establishing the right moisture content within the clay mix is the key to building the mound. That consistency has been described as just a bit drier than that of Play-Doh when it first comes out of the can. It’s one of the instances where the science and art of sports field management mesh, learning by doing what that right consistency is given the material being used, the outside temperatures and humidity levels, sun, shade or cloud cover, wind speeds and direction. These factors vary daily–and often hourly–and make a difference in the formula that will keep the mix at just the right moisture level.
That’s why you will build the mound in 1-inch levels, creating the degree of moisture you want in each level so it will be just tacky enough for the new layer to adhere to the previous one. Use a tamp to compact each level. It’s important that the hard clay used to build the plateau and landing area is a minimum of 6 to 8 inches deep. You can put down plastic or wrap the tamp with a towel or piece of landscape fabric to keep it from sticking to the clay. You can’t add soil conditioner between these layers, as that will keep them from bonding together. Check the measurements of the height, using the transit and laser or the string line, with every lift of clay.
When you’ve built up the subbase with hard clay at the 60-foot-6-inch area to a 10-inch height, construct the plateau 5 feet wide by 34 inches deep. Position the front of the pitching rubber 60 feet 6 inches from the back of home plate. Set it firmly in place, making sure it is level across the length and width, with the top surface exactly 10 inches above the level of home plate. Draw a centerline through the pitching rubber and run a string from home plate to second base to confirm the rubber is centered.
With the pitching rubber in place and the plateau completed, you can begin to build the slope toward the front of the mound. Begin the slope 6 inches in front of the toe plate creating a fall of 1 inch per each foot. Double-check the accuracy of the slope using the transit and laser or the string line.
You’ll be using the harder mound clay to create the pie-shaped front slope of the mound, as this section will provide the landing area for the pitcher. Use the same method of clay mix, water and tamping, working in 1-inch increments.
You’ll use the infield mix to construct the remainder of the mound. Begin working from the back edge of the plateau using the same layering process. Use the edge of the slope board or a large wooden plank, positioning the top edge on the back of the plateau area and the other edge of the board on the edge of the grass to guide the degree of slope for the back and sides of the mound. Looking at the mound from the front as a clock face, you’ll be completing roughly the area from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. to transition into the wedge in the front of the mound. You’ll want a smooth area of slope for the back and sides so that the side section precisely meets the edge of the pie-shaped wedge that is the front of the mound. Upon completion, the mound should look like a continuous circle with no indication that different materials have been used.
The dimensions, working from the outer edges of the 5-foot-by-34-inch plateau, are mathematically accurate to make the back and side segments a perfect fit. They tie into the wedge with the 1-inch to 1-foot fall of the front slope that begins 6 inches in front of the pitching rubber.
Once the mound is completed, top it with a 1/8-inch layer of infield conditioner so it won’t stick to the tamp. Then, cover the mound with a tarp and keep it covered to prevent it from drying out and cracking. Once the mound is properly constructed, you’ll have only the easier, but ongoing, task of managing the moisture level as you repair the mound after every practice and game.
Above Article Published in www.sportsfieldmanagementmagazine.com
This question comes across my desk a couple times a week. I normally give the same answer. “It depends…on a lot of things!” If you have bare areas of turf, or the grass is growing all over your infield and the lips on the field look like they are a foot high….. you need to do something. Just remember, its not only what you do to improve your field, it also how you go about it and to what level!
Here are few pointers that may be helpful as you plan:
1. Evaluate what type and how many events are held on the field. You don’t want to be in a situation where you do a great job with the renovation only to find out your back in the same place again the following year.
2. Determine your budget after you find out how often the field will be used. This will help determine what type and level of field you will have to build. The more the use….the more you should invest in the construction of the field. Also determine the time you have to re-build your field? Fall , Spring or maybe you only have a 7 day window?
3. Make sure you have someone on staff that understands field construction and specifications so they can help you design exactly what you if not seek help from your local university or extension service.
4. Plan for maintenance operations. Assess your maintenance budget because that may be the weak link in your field operation. A great field can turn into a bad field very quickly without proper maintenance.
A general rule of thumb, If your field is over half covered with weeds its time to replace the turf. Trying to change it back to one healthy grass is possible but it will take a few years.