Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

Happy 10th Blogaversary MLBlogs!


athens 2004 1WOW…. it’s been 10 years ago TODAY that I began to scribble this blog for MLB.com.   I remember Mark Newman asked me if I wouldn’t mind posting to MLB’s  new blog website something about groundskeeping ,ballparks etc….   I said sure… what’s a post?    Then he told me to name the blog something and that he needed me to “post” something as soon as possible and that he would set up the name for my blog.  I had no idea what I was doing so I “posted” the above photo having recently returned from the 2004 Olympics in Athens.

Next thing I know, I had a blog with my name on it beside one with Alyssa Milano and Tommy Lasorda.  That was pretty good company.     A lot has changed in 10 years.  The world of social media, groundskeeping/sportsturf management and life in general has been a wild ride since 2005.   Our company merged and now we will be  Brightview,  our kids have graduated high school (and college), the WBC was created,  managed multiple MLB Season Openers and exhibition games, twitter craze, Instagram, vine, stumble, etc….

Olympic Games are Underway...Rain an all!Loved this photo of Mark and I in Beijing…might have started the selfie craze!!

 So 357 blog posts later, thousands of shares, hundreds of thousands of views, comments, visitors, tags, etc…. I can honestly say thanks to Mark Newman the creator of MLB’s blogosphere for asking me to blog about the best job in the world.    I’ve made a ton of friends along the way through this blog and received a lot of nice notes about the field tips I’ve posted.   It’s all about learning which I continue to do daily through interactions with my peers in the sportsturf industry.  I love to teach and share information about building and managing safe fields.   It’s a great industry if you ever want a career change.  Join the STMA and check it out!

Anyway Happy 10th anniversary Mlblogs!   Looking forward to another 10.

Montreal draws 96000+ for two MLB exhibition games


montreal logoThis past weekend they played a couple games between the Reds and the Bluejays at Montreal’s old (but fun) Olympic stadium. The two game series drew over 96000 people.  I heard a lot of folks say. Wow ” MLB should come back.  What do you think?  I just said that would be cool.”   However for me the event was more of a walk down memory lane seeing old friends from my Montreal and West Palm beach days when I worked with the club.

montreal crowdMontreal’s Olympic stadium has quite a bit of history.   From the 1976 summer Olympic Games to the Expos,  numerous concerts , soccer , truck pulls, RV shows ,  you name it…this place has hosted it.    Former expo Steve Rodgers was with me as we walked the field and he talked of when the homeplate was actually closer to where the mound is currently located.  The synthetic turf surface is called nex-field which has about 3/4lb of rubber per sq ft worked into the fibers.  This particular synthetic turf was designed for soccer.

During the trip I had a chance during to talk with a few local people in Montreal about  baseball in their awesome city!   So I took a poll.  It’s very unofficial and really random so the accuracy has got to be legit!

I asked 5 people  4  questions.

  1. Are you from Montreal?  3  were from Montreal, 1 from Haiti and one from India
  2. Are you a baseball fan?   3  yes’s  – 2 no’s.
  3. If they would like to see baseball back in Montreal? 4 yes and 1 no
  4. Have you ever been to Olympic stadium to see an event?   5 yes  and 0 no’s
  5. What is favorite sport?  just so I could gant their responses (and that they understood what I was saying since I don’t speak French.)   ALL 5 said hockey so that worked.

More details on the folks I polled: (The 5 included 2 cabbies,  1 customs agent and one bartender and some guy from Montreal i was sitting beside on the plane.  3 guys 2 girls.

I think my poll was promising,  Personally (again my personal opinion) I think Montreal would be a great place for a team someday in the future but before that happens they need a plan.  We all heard the same dialogue from Commissioner Manfred  where he wants to see a strategic plan on how they plan to make it work for the long haul.  Does that mean a new stadium or rebuild existing?  Selecting the right owner?    This past weekend was a small piece of the puzzle.  It confirmed interest from the folks in Montreal that they enjoy seeing baseball.

The First 2-Team Spring Training Complex – West Palm Beach 1962-96


WPB Municipal

Built in 1962 for the Atlanta braves and eventually home for the Montreal expos…twice,  this complex became the training grounds for a lot of growth in our baseball industry and even though it has been demolished,  it is still producing some interesting stories in baseball today .   Many may not know but thiscomplex was actually the first dual use spring training venue to be used by two MLB organizations.   The Braves had use of the main stadium and 4 fields and the Expos had use of 2 fields and 2  half fields.  Both MLB teams changed in the stadium so everyday the Expos would have to walk by the Braves as they practiced on the main field and head back to the “backfields”.   We also had FSL West Palm Beach Expos, 4 instructional leagues, fantasy camps, high school sports, concerts, etc..  It was fun managing the complex between  1988-1996.  Many past employees that were with these clubs during the 90’s call it the glory years for the braves & expos organizations.   I guess if you look at the past couple years of  HOF editions : Smoltz, Glavine, Maddux, Martinez, Randy Johnson and Bobby Cox  it makes sense.  

What I find amazing today is not only did this spring training site start a trend for numerous other dual team spring training sites in AZ but it was also a GM maker.   I’m talking about between 1989 and 1996 when the braves and expos were both considered the hottest teams in the national league.  The molding of past and current GM’s  and asst GM’s during this era is somewhat mind-boggling.   Just a sampling of current and recent GM’s from both organizations that came out of West Palm Beach during that short 7 year time-frame included good friends like- Dave Dombrowski, Bill Stoneman, Dan Duquette, Neal Huntington, Bill Gievett, Frank Wren. John Schuerholz,  Dayton Moore,  Kevin Malone, Omar Minaya, Jim Beattie, Chuck Lamar, Dean Taylor.     I’m sure I probably left out a few others and there were numerous Assistant GM’s that came out of WPB too.  …And we can’t forget about the All-star scouting directors/farm directors like Gary Hughes, Paul Snyder, Ed Creech, Kent Qualls, etc…

i recall The competition between these two teams during ST was fierce during those years.  They saw each other everyday and played each other more times than they wanted to but in the end…based on the careers of some the GM’s , players and the success of the clubs they were better for it.   

Wrapping up a Crazy 2014 & Wishing Everyone A Happy New Year!


It is very hard to believe 2014 is almost over!   So much to be thankful for from a personal and professional viewpoint.   I can honestly say that 2014 was an amazing year on a lot of levels in the baseball world.

This year I traveled more than others … logging a couple hundred days, to 13 different countries. a few hundred thousand miles.   Highlights of the 2014 year regarding sports and stuff would be:

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* MLB Sydney Opener in Australia.   What a great project working with some awesome people in Australia!

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* Japan Samurai All Star series. Working with our friends in Japan on 5 stadiums in 10 days

*   Toronto 2015 test event games in Ajax.  Planning for the games next summer at a cool sport complex where baseball and softball are side by side.

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* SportsField maintenance clinics in Korea, Taiwan, Canada, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and Holland.

* Cuba relations warming with the USA sounds promising.

* Kansas City royals in the World Series were exciting to watch.  Especially happy for Trevor and his crew

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* Guadalajara got a new ballpark out of a track and field venue.

* Commissioner Selig officially stepped down. What a tenure!   Rob Manfred was a great replacement choice and a guy who really likes international game development

* We heard some promising news from baseball’s international elite folks at WBSC  about the high probability of baseball and softball getting back in the Olympic games by 2020.

athens 2004

* We celebrated the 10 year anniversary of the 2004 Athens Summer Olympics.

* The company I work for Brickman merged with their arch rival valleycrest.   A new name was revealed this month. Brightview which sounds really cool.  We are better together for sure!

After close to 40 years in this industry the years seem to be going faster.   I guess that’s a good thing.  2014 was also a year of troubled times for many people and  countries.   We are a people living on one planet and it’s obvious we have a lot of work to do make it a better place for our children to live but I’m sure we will figure it out.  Just like a baseball…. it takes teamwork and prayer.

Made alot of friends this year in different countries spreading the word about the STMA..  A major thanks to our brickman crew and subs  who helped out all year.  couldn’t have done it without you!

Looking into the crystal Base-ball 2015 looks to be similar in travel and potential events.   Wishing each of you a prosperous, safe and wonderful 2015!   HAPPY NEW YEAR!

2014 MLB Japan Tour – Making friends through baseball


koshein crowd

A whirlwind couple weeks of baseball in Japan has come to an end and with it some fond memories.  This is one of the greatest international events MLB puts on every couple years.   We worked side by side with our Japanese friends to  renovate and maintain 5 different ballparks where the MLB All-stars took on the Japan Samurai.   Crisscrossing Japan from Okinawa to Sapporo with stops in Osaka and Tokyo was fun but challenging.   We had the chance to meet some really awesome people along the way, see some old friends and make a lot of new ones.  Its so cool spending time with folks that tend to fields and work on stadiums around the world that speak the same language…baseball!  Its truly unique that event though we actually speak different languages that when were working on the field we understood each other and what we were trying to achieve.    This tour is really about building friendships through sport and I can say in that regard it was a major success.

MLB has been playing in Japan for over 80 years and this tour celebrated that relationship.  The Japanese and Americans share a passion for a sport that we both call our national past time.  This tour brought us to some new destinations that allowed us to develop new relationships by working together on the fields and ballparks.   We learned new exciting things from one another such as equipment and materials they use vs what we use.

Note:  We actually started a little more than a week before the event started prepping fields around various other events that were being held at each venue before the all star tour. .

koshein crew

Day 1-4 – Our first stop was in Osaka where we spent time with the ground crew and local ballpark staff preparing the field and venue for the first exhibition game at Koshien stadium, Home to the Hanshin tigers.  The history of the field resonates each time I spoke with members of the ground crew and staff.   There are quite a few interesting facts about this ballpark built in the early 1920’s with an original capacity of 80000. Over the years the size was reduced and now holds about 40k. Baseball actually started in this country around 1870 and the MLB tour has been a true exchange of values and cultures since the 1920s.

In 1934 Connie Mack brought a group of MLB all stars on a tour of Japan stopping to play in Koshien.    Eighty years ago players on the 1934 team of all stars included Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Fox, Lefty Gomez and one interesting journeyman Moe Berg.  What I find fascinating about Moe being on this team is that he was supposedly not in koshien the day they played at the park in front of a sold-out crowd.   According to various stories from the locals he was supposedly in Tokyo filming parts of Japan. This film was eventually used by the CIA.  A book written later after World War 2 called “A catcher and a spy” outlines some of Moe’s history as a spy for the CIA. There is also a large plaque in a green garden located beside the stadium that sports the bust of babe Ruth and the importance of the 1934 tour.

koshien st

As for the history behind Koshiens darker black Infield color, it is a sandy mix with a little silt and a very small amount of clay.  There is some volcanic ash and local organics that attribute to the dark color.   It truly is hallowed ground for many reasons and we highly respected that heritage as we worked on the field.  We asked about ways to firm it up but we’re told of the history and respected their request.   Shortly after only re-building the mound and homeplate with small amounts of  MLB clays from the states,  Kanazowa-san the head curator of the field wanted to see the soil conditioner we brought over.   Obviously the red color was something they were concerned about but he was very interested in the properties of the product.  One thing led to another and he agreed to allow us to use the red conditioner on the mound and batter’s box.    So for the first time since the ballpark was constructed, there was a little color on this field (which will be removed shortly after we leave). But the real story is that he wanted to see what it did and how it was used and if he liked the product,  we explained that he could have it dyed black to match Koshiens black infield mix perfectly.

Day 2. Obviously pulling off an event like this at multiple parks requires some scheduling and help so our Brickman sportsturf team was composed of Chad Olsen, Eric Ogden, Zach Zverson and Isaiah Lienau.   These guys worked some long long shifts while crossing Japan a few times overseeing the field preparations.

osaka dome photo

Day 3 –  the Osaka dome is what we called it,  but it’s actually the Kyocera dome.  Located about 20 minutes from koshien.  Ewata-San is the head groundskeeper of this busy venue. ( sorry about spelling Ewata-san)  We helped him re-build of the mounds, bullpen and touched up homeplate.  Outside of that it was pretty easy.   What a great crew to work with and so respectful of not only the field but everyone and everything in the stadium.   This dome was designed with crazy acoustics.   You can stand in a spot directly under second base in the center and produce the perfect echo that is so clear it’s scary.   I worked with ewata 10 years ago this year when the tour came through.   So cool to see him and see how he has continued to make his field look and play so well regardless of the extremely high use.

osaka

Day 4 – this was a travel day to Tokyo for the team.  I took a quick day trip to Okinawa to see how the field renovation was coming along and check in with Isaiah.   Chad and Eric were spending another all-nighter prepping the dome in Tokyo for the next 3 games.  Photo below is the MASKED-MEN of the Tokyo dome.  Having fun. 

tokyo dome masked men

Day 5-7. The Tokyo dome has quite the history with MLB events. We have played several openers and all star tours at the Tokyo dome. These 3 games Friday Saturday and Sunday were all sell outs. The ground crew was led by kaweke and tamba.  I’m writing these names as they sound not by the exact spelling.  This is another venue that goes through some major transitions for other events.  We have worked with these talented young me since they were entry level on the crew and now they are the Chiefs…along with the “masked-man” and “mama boss.”   Always nice to see them.  photo below is Osaka dome crew

sapporo dome crew

Day 8.  Another travel day to Sapporo stadium located in the northern part of the country. Basically on the same latitude as upstate New York.   What a cool city. I mean that literal as well since when we arrived it was snowing with a few inches on the ground.  Thankful for the dome in this city!

Day 9.  The Sapporo dome is massive.  Hosting some serious indoor sports including the ability to move a soccer field in and out of the venue in just 3 hours.   The roll up turf was installed in 12 hours for our game.   We had to work in hard hats dung the mound, base-pit and homeplate  renovations.

Day 10.  Another travel day to Okinawa.  This was almost a 4 hour flight taking us from a place compared from Maine to Key West.

okinawa crew

Day 11. And final game in Okinawa at cellular field was nice.  The field played pretty good and was similar to koshien with an all infield clay area. This field had a heck of crown at almost 1. % fall from around the mound so raising the mound and home-plate as needed.  Also we were able to add a little bit of clay to several spots around the infield. It was clay from Sapporo. This helped us in these areas as the infield skin here was much sandier than koshien.   Another sellout crowd and great weather and crew to work with.

All in All, the entire event was a success. The Japan samurai won the tour this time.  First one since 1990.   they had a great team and that played the All stars with a lot of heart.  The Japan Samurai won 4 of seven from the entire series.   Ewata-san came down from Osaka to help us at this field.  Obviously we couldn’t have completed all this work without the help of our interpreters yomuri’s sato-san and MLB’s ryo-san. These guys went above and beyond the call of duty to help us navigate the country and obtain the things we needed at the parks. Forever indebted to them and more importantly their friendship.   I wish we could have an overall team photo of this entire Japan field contingency group but at least we got a few of each ground crew.  Really cool event in a cool country.

okinawa field

We can learn a lot from other cultures.  Having had the privilege to travel to various countries I enjoy sharing what I’ve seen and learned with many of you.  I receive a lot of positive feed-back from readers of this blog and I thank you for the kind words.   I write this blog for my own pleasure meaning “I’m not paid to blog”…and hopefully things shared will help someone with their field.  The world is really not that big and when we engage ourselves in other cultures and meet new people it puts things in perspective.   Thanks again to all the Japanese groundcrews and for a job well done and Happy Thanksgiving to everyone.

KBO Hosts First Baseball Field Maintenance Clinic in Seoul


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Late last week the Korean Baseball Organization ( KBO) hosted the inaugural Baseball Field Maintenance Clinic at Jamsil Stadium.  The educational event was attended by ballpark operations and sportsturf managers from all the 9 Professional KBO clubs.    We covered a lot of ground in one day including mound and homeplate care, turf management and light repairs, but the best part was the interaction between each of the attendees.     One fun topic was sharing info about the STMA and how the organization brings people together to learn about ways to make their fields safer.  We even used our Korean slides Kim Heck put together!

korea liner

I really enjoyed watching the guys put the lines down at Jamsil with a very unique chalk marking system  Using a metal tube filled with chalk, one person would rake the tube over rails in the template which gently dropped the chalk in a nice line.  Pretty cool!

This group  had never been together in one room so when we went outside they began to exchange info and share stories about each others fields..or at least that is what my interpreter told me.    I would like to thank the KBO for hosting this wonderful event.

2014 MLB Japan All-Star Tour ballparks


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The 2014 MLB all star series will be held the first couple weeks of November.  The best of five series will be played in the Osaka, Sapporo and Tokyo domes with two exhibitions planned at  Okinawa and Koshien.  The history of the Japan All star tour event dates back quite a ways.  This will be the 36th time a group of MLB players will travel to Japan to compete in a friendly series and the 11th All Star tour.

IMAG1283 during the site checks our first stop was Okinawa. A small island located way south of the mainland.  It’s about a 2 hour flight from Osaka.  There is a lot of history in Okinawa as it was considered the turning point of WWII.  This is a really cool ballpark which sports a Japanese traditional baseball field which is composed of an all dirt infield.   Japanese players have been competing on these type of fields for over 75 years.     It’s a 25000 seat park and it was very loud and clear that the Okinawans are excited about hosting an exhibition game.    There is a large  military base located near by and  I’m sure there will be some serious fans supporting their favorite MLB and Japan All stars.

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There are two parks proposed for competition in Osaka.   Koshien stadium is the older venue with the most history of baseball in the country.   Connie Mac brought a tour here in 1934  featuring the likes of Babe Ruth and others.  In the early 90’s  MLB international  and the players union had another tour which stopped by koshien.    The park is truly unique hosting the national high school tournament every year.  The park is packed for these games.  The venue has a  all dirt infield, big foul territory and a natural grass outfield. Koshien stadium is about a 30 minutes drive from the Osaka dome.

IMAG1331The other venue planned for games is  the Osaka dome.  I remember last time it was for the 2004 MLB all-star series.   It was good seeing old friends and more importantly seeing the mound and homeplate improvements they had made.    They did an amazing job at matching the infield clay around the base pits with the synthetic turf color.

DSC06259The 4th planned venue is in Sapporo  and it is also a domed ballpark.  Again this is another impressive dome with huge foul territory and a synthetic turf surface.   The outfield wall is about 20ft tall and the distance to the fence is respectable at 330 down the lines and 400 to center.  This venue has the ability to open the center field wall and “float”  in a regulation size natural grass soccer pitch.    The size of the building is massive.  I was told by the local management that the entire Tokyo dome can fit inside this dome!

MLB Opener in Japan 2008
The Main venue for the games will be in Tokyo at the ever so popular and well-known “big-egg” .     The big news for this venue is it has a new synthetic turf surface which was really needed.  The amount of events this facility sees is truly impressive. Always great to see and work with our friends at Yomuri and the grounds staff in the Tokyo dome.

Looking forward to the tour and  working with our Japanese friends.

Checking out Ballparks for the 2014 European Championship


 


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Regensburg

Enjoyed visiting the ballparks last week that will host the 2014 European Baseball Championships.   Thanks to CEB President Jan Esselman and Czech Republic VP Lucie Cubikova for handling all the logistics.   Our friends in Regensburg Armin, Philip, Juergen and Martin were also a big help in getting around the country and seeing the park on a last minute check up.      The event will be held in mid September and played in 4 cities.  Regensburg Germany and Trebic, Ostrava, Brno Czech Republic.    Baseball clubs in Europe are operated much differently than the clubs and leagues we have in the USA.     Each city typically has a sports club that houses several sports.  In some cases the sport has their own field and venue.   Kids begin to use the club at a young age and work their way up in the levels.  In most cases they do not have a  high school or college baseball sport program  so the club development  fills the gap.  It’s a really cool concept as it brings the community together similar to the way our MLB academies function in the states.

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Ostrava

It’s great to see baseball growing in Europe.  A testament to the work that the IBAF, CEB and the World Baseball Softball Federation are doing to grow our game.   DSC05801

Brno 

 

 

Chad  also took a look at a pre-event training field in Paris France.  All synthetic field except mound and plate.  All of the tournament competition fields are natural grass.

Templiers Field 016Lieusaint France

 

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Trebic

 I also had an opportunity to see the new ballpark in Hoofddorp , Holland a suburb of Amsterdam.  These guys are not hosting any of  the European championship rounds  this year but i had a chance to see the progress on my return.    What a nice baseball venue!   The CLub team and city should be real proud of this park that has 5 fields and they added 2 half fields.  Ike , Joe and Chad are helping to train the local volunteers how to maintain the field. This week they are hosting an MLB clinic.

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Hoofddorp ( Amsterdam)  

Also took in the opening game of the Prague Baseball Week.  Home of the Eagles. Jan Begin the man who runs the sport complex had a nice crowd on hand for the event.   ( photo below)2377

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!!

Sydney Cricket Grounds Conversion for MLB Season Opener Underway!


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After 16 months of planning, the 2week  conversion  of  the Sydney Cricket Grounds ( SCG) pitch for MLB’s 2014 Season Opener began this week and is moving along very well.   We have stripped the  areas of the field  where the clay will be installed for the mound, baselines, infield and warning track.  Evergreen is the local contractor hired by Moore Sports to perform these duties.  This week we will begin the fencing, backstop, batters eye, foul poles, dugouts, bullpens and interior areas of the locker rooms.

scg layoutThe SCG field crew headed up by Tom Parker have been awesome.  They just finished the cricket season last weds and we began the grading of the field Thursday.   Over the course of the next couple weeks we will move about 1200 tons of materials on and off the field to build the playing surface.  The majority of these products including clays,warning track and rootzone  materials are locally provided.  Gail Materials has provided some infield clay products. They also provide clay products for the Padres and Dodgers.  Turface infield conditioners will be used to topcoat the field along with Covermaster providing all the padding.   Since we are unable to sink posts in the ground to support the fence structure, we will need to bring in over 100 tons of counter weights in order to secure the outfield fence.   Its a large project that has a lot of moving parts but if anyone can pull it off its the crew at the SCG and Scott Egelton with Pier Properties who is acting as PM.

IMAG5603The bermuda turfgrass also known as “cooch grass” is maintained just under 1/2 inch high during Cricket season. We are raising the cut to almost an inch so it is more in line to where the Dodgers and DBacks are currently training in Arizona.   Only 2 weeks after the MLB event is over the MRL takes the pitch so the field is actually going through 2 major conversions in over a month.   All the sod harvested from the pitch is being used at nearby venues.

More to follow as this project continues.

Only 52 days until MLB’s Opening Day Series in Sydney


SCG view from right center fieldIt’s hard to think of baseball during these frigid days,  but its sunny and warm in Australia as we prepare for the MLB season Opener March 22nd – 23rd.   During this site visit we had a chance to see some Cricket and watch the Ausies take on England.   The new stand ( pictured above)  that is located behind homeplate is just about finished and looks beautiful.  It was actually designed with baseball dugouts that can be covered with temporary seating for the other sports that play at the SCG.

The Sydney cricket ground (SCG) is considered the hallowed grounds for cricket in all of Australia.   However that connection does not protect the grounds from the additional use it receives annually.    Cricket season runs from November to March, then AFL Rugby is typically late March till Sept.  Other high traffic events include, charity cricket games and this spring the SCG will host our season opener.   During our site planning meetings we witnessed daily tours with people criss-crossing the field.    Just like any other major sports venue this facility has learned to adapt in order to meet the demand of a sports crazed country.   Hats off to Tom Parker and his crew for keeping this pitch looking great.

SCG view from behind homeplate

The photo above is a view  from behind the homeplate area.   The planning for the Cricket,  to baseball, to AFL football conversion has been extensive.  We are shipping over a few clay products and soil conditioners to work with local materials from the states and padding from Canada.   We found some nice local warning track mix, and a great sod farm.   We are having to coordinate this conversion over a 10 day period.   The playing surface is just a part of the overall conversion.  Other areas of the conversion include entire outfield and foul territory fencing system, wall padding, bullpens, foul poles, batters eye, backstop structure, netting,  dugouts, locker rooms , etc…  It’s going to be challenging and fun all at the same time.  Our awesome conversion team includes the SCG crew, Moore Sports, Evergreen and Pier Properties plus a few other subs.   More to follow as we get closer to this event.   Pitchers and catchers report to spring training in just a couple weeks so hope I you can stay warm with the thought that  baseball season is just around the corner.  

Congrats to MLB 2014 HOF’s Glav , Mad-dog and Frank


Congratulations to the Hall of Fame Class of 2014.  Tom Glavine and Greg Maddox along with Frank Thomas.  The Braves 1-2 punch had some help with an awesome manager Bobby Cox and pitching coach Leo Mazzone. You can throw in  Smolzty, Avery and Merker and then Wohlers to close which kind of made it an unbeatable rotation.

Having worked for the Braves and managed the Spring training fields where Glav and Mad-dog competed during the 90’s it didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize this duo was destined for the HOF.   West Palm Beach was the Braves spring home from 1962-1996.  I started in WPB in 1988 and moved with the  Braves to Disney in 1996 for a few more years during the Braves magical run.

Mad-dog and Glav would typically be the first guys to arrive in every morning around 7am.  Always walk across the field to say hello,  ask what the day looked like,  which golf course to hit in the afternoon, where to fish,  etc..   They were always appreciative of the field and our crew.  Many times bringing breakfast sandwiches for the crew.    I would walk in the locker room and  ask how the mound performed that day and both would be happy to offer comments.   These guys were SO consistent.  I recall after a game where Maddox pitched in the bullpen,  he thought the home plate was turned a little.    Sure enough we put a string on it and it was off by ¼ inch.    On another occasion,  I asked him to come out to see the mound  at Disney.  He had thrown that day (which I didn’t get a chance to attend due to other mickey mouse duties)  and I told him thanks for the autograph.  He asked what i meant  and I told him he  always leaves a distinct pattern with his push off toe after each pitch.     His foot placement across the clay and landing area was exactly the same every single time he pitched.

These guys set the tempo for the many winning seasons they had in the 90’s.  Bobby would remind me every spring “this is where we start winning Mur so get us going right! ”    With these two on the mound… that was easy!

Estadio Hermosillo continues to shine in Sonora


During our winter league evaluations chad and Rafael checked in on Hermosillo’s Sonora ballpark. In addition to a few photos chad took …. our friend Fernando sent some photos over of the opening night and the ongoing use of the stadium. Just a really cool ballpark.

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2013 Ballfield renovations around the globe


First and foremost, Congrats to the Boston Red Sox on their 2013 WCS victory as well as my good friend David Mellor and his groundcrew.   It was a great series.

Although the series has just ended field renovations have been underway in numerous places preparing for the 2014 season.  Its a busy year for us with renovations in Lancaster and Tennessee.  Also ongoing new construction in Amsterdam  at the Pioniers new complex and in Australia as they prepare for the ABL season openers next next week.   Not to mention a major renovation at the SCG for the 2014 MLB Opener.  Hoping mother nature is good to  all the contractors.

lancasterWe built the field in Lancaster back in 2005.  It has been used for everything from ice rinks to soccer , football to concerts you name it,  this field has seen it.

lancastor new fieldLancaster was still “looking” OK ,  but after a field sees  8-10 years of high use it needs to be resurfaced because rain water begins to drain more slowly through the profile due to all the organic matter that develops over the years.   The main reason it has performed so well  has been the great turf managers that have taken care of the field.  Anthony DeFao and Josh Viet…Two guys in 10 years.   The field’s successful performance over the years reflects their hard work and dedication. The ODP group has always supported our efforts in in building and managing their fields.

amsterdam hooddorp fieldFinishing touches in Hoofddorp on the Pioniers new sport complex.  The main stadium field is going to be a real gem.   The folks in Amsterdam had a big storm recently and some of the warning track mix washed onto the field.  In an effort to remove the very small gravel they broke out the vacuum cleaners.   That’s commitment!

smokiesThe Tennessee Smokies new natural grass surface is another big upgrade.  This field has also been around for several years and used similar as Lancaster for special events.

SCG topdressedSCG renovation taking shape after a heavy topdressing of the newly installed “cooch” grass ( bermuda).  Although not a pretty photo this looks really good to turf managers.

Checking out the DR Winter League Ballparks


???????????????????????????????The World Series is not the only pro baseball  going on this weekend.  Its also the start of the 2013 Caribbean Winter League Season.    We started reviewing  the pro parks in the Dominican Republic this past week.  This will be our 3rd series of winter league cub evaluations.    It was great  seeing the progress they are making on the fields.  I recall during our last set of inspections they were needing equipment and materials that was not available on the island.  After seeing just a few of the DR parks this year,  we noticed a marked improvement of the playing surfaces and the facilities.    ( Photo above is Santiago’s ballpark.)

quiesqya( Photo above in Santo Domingo) There are several reasons that I believe relate to the  continuing improvements of the facilities and fields.   MLB OPs  has been hosting field clinics every other year in the DR,  the MLB DR office has expanded and is a huge resource for the clubs as they determine ways to make there parks better.   You also have  clubs that are  devoting more time and funds towards making their parks better for fans and players.      Everyone wins!     6 years ago most of the fields were a bit rough and the ground crews were frustrated with lack of materials and overuse.   Still room for improvement but…There is a new breeze blowing and it’s going in the right direction.   Nice work by the MLB DR office and the WL.  ( La Ramona Ballpark Below)

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SCG renovation underway for 2014 MLB opener


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One end of the pitch is being graded to be more like a baseball infield in preparation for the 2014 MLB opener. They removed about 45000 sq ft of grass and slightly leveled the area where the infield will be placed in front of the new grandstand. The grandstand also had permanent dugouts installed as part of the total renovation. The SCG is not touching the cricket wicket so those hallowed grounds are safe. The SCG crew is awesome. What a great group to work with.image

MLBUYA 2013 field maintenance clinic, Compton CA.


imageCouldn’t  have asked for a better day for our final field clinic In Compton.   The weather was great and the turnout was also wonderful.   This year was our 3rd clinic in Compton since the first academy opened In 2006. Ironically out of the 70 attendees only a handful  raised there hands when I asked if they attended Previous  clinics.   we focused our talks on fall renovations and general maintenance.   It was great having Luke Yoder from the padres help out as well as Rene Garcia from the dodgers.   Also had chad Olsen handling a few talks.     We had Covermaster and diamond pro sponsor the clinics for this year.   A big thanks to each of them. There donation covered meals and expenses for the free event.   Also a big thanks to the local stma chapter for sharing resources to the group.

Next year looks like another busy clinic year And The academies keep growing.

2013 MLB Youth Academy Field Clinic Series


???????????????????????????????Over the past couple days I had  the chance to meet some future MLB groundskeepers at the Houston and New Orleans Youth Academy field maintenance clinics.   It was a great event in both cities with a wonderful turnout of current and future turf professionals.

At our clinic in Houston,  we had some super guest speakers. Dan Bergstrom with the Astros, Tom  Burns with Diamond Pro and our Chad Olsen .   We went through mound an homeplate construction, infield and turf management –  stressing safety for the kids that play on the fields in their parks.     One of the highlights was talking with a group of students from Nimitz High School who attend the Co-op AG program.   The teacher brought the students to expose them to sportsturf management.   It was great talking with them about a career in this industry.

???????????????????????????????From there we headed to New Orleans for their  Academies inaugural clinic. This venue just opened a few months ago and is still being updated and improved.  Most of the attendees were from local parks and rec as well as nearby universities.  Again our speakers provided a lot of grass roots education for the group.    Rene Asprion, Tommy Marks, Chad Olsen and  I  presented topics on turf maintenance, field layouts, construction and safety tips.   A BIG Thanks to Darrell Miller, Eddie and D.Wade from the UYA team for all your help in pulling these clinics together.  MLB is making a major effort to provide education around the world in developing better fields.  These clinics are a key component of that initiative.  Future clinics are being planned in Compton, CA and DC so stay tuned.

Groundskeeper- Mankind’s First Job!


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According to the Bible, Adam was given a job to take care of the grounds in the land of Eden. It would appear that this was our world’s first employment offer. Genesis 2-15And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” . According to Christianity we are decedents of Adam… therefore from a groundskeeper. After tending the turf in the garden, Adam was offered a promotion to name all the animals including the groundhog which eventually led us to groundhog day ..

Over the weekend our sportsturf industry received a fair amount of press due to all the great turf managers working at the Superbowl and also from a fun article that Mark Newman wrote about Ground Hog Day / Grounds Crew Day which came out the day before the Superbowl. The article provides an analogy regarding the same Biblical verse.

Here is the irony! After the SuperBowl half time show they ran the Dodge truck commercial featuring the voice of “Paul Harvey” one of my favorite radio shows ever! Paul eloquently spoke about how God made farmers to tend to the land, sow the seeds, milk the cows, etc.. a really good commercial no doubt referring to the same verse.

So MLB.com and the NFL painted a similar message over the weekend about farmers and groundskeepers. Its a good day for the men and women who tend the earth! How about that!
Fyi – Genesis 1-11. “And God said let the earth bring forth grass…

New Ballpark in Hermosillo Opens with the Caribe World Series


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The 2013 caribbean world series began today in Sonora mx The field is looking pretty sharp thanks to Chad Olsen and the construction team in Hermosillo. The young sea spray Paspalum Turfgrass will be under a lot of use in the next week of games.  A great event to open this new ballpark to the world. I’m just excited for the people of Sonora and their new venue. I am sure the city leaders and staff are Proud of the accomplishment. This park will set a new standard for future stadiums in Mexico and South America.

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