Results tagged ‘ MLB ’

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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2013 Caribbean World Series Venue looking sweet!


Hermosillo Pics 030The new Sonora stadium in Hermosillo Mexico is almost complete. Typical details remain as with most major stadium projects,  but this park is setting a standard for future venues outside of the USA.   With the help of the D-backs  relationship over the years the Naranjeros plan to fulfill a plan to build the best ballpark in Mexico.  Congrats to the team ownership and municipal government.

hermosilo jan 2013Lets just say they are making a really good run at the title of the best park in Latin America!     Congrats to Chad Olsen and our Brickman sportsturf team that have put time into the  new field development over the past several months.

Ballparks in Regensburg and Athens


On my recent venture we took some time to check in with the folks in regensburg Germany to see how the WBC qualifier preparations were coming along. Stopped in Amsterdam to see the developments of a new ballpark and then onto Athens. The 2004 Olympic baseball stadium in Athens is currently not a baseball venue but a soccer venue. At least they are using it for a outdoor sport!

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There is only one “main” olympic stadium still being used for baseball which is in barcelona host of the 1992 games. The 1996 olympic stadium was Fulton county stadium which was torn down,the 2000 olympic main stadium in Sydney was a showground for cattle and was only a temporary venue for the games. However west of Sydney is the 2nd olympic venue and it has been resurrected by mlb and is used in the abl league. The 2008 wukesong baseball olympic stadium in beijing and both Practice fields were reduced to rubble shortly after the games. So the Olympic baseball stadium legacy plan is not doing so great

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