Results tagged ‘ United States ’

TO2015 PAN-AM Baseball/Softball Games wrap up this weekend in AJAX!


baseball in ajax

The 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto will finish up this weekend at the President’s Choice Ballpark in Ajax, Ontario.  It started July 6th with practices and ends July 26th.   For the first time they have both men and women’s baseball/softball competitions.   We have witnessed some tremendous games played on some pretty nice fields maintained by some really awesome people.   The “people” are town of Ajax staff,  TO2015 competition staff and volunteers and that’s what makes these events so special.  Everyone working together!   The volunteers are really special and range in age from 17-70.    Starting early in the am helping with all the field duties from pulling the big tarp to dragging the hose around because they want to be a part of the games.    They work just as hard as everyone else and love just being at the ballpark!  The heart of a volunteer is HUGE!    We couldn’t have done it without them. Thanks Jack and Randy for bringing them together!

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On the sport side, Team Canada took the Gold medal in men’s baseball and USA won Silver with Cuba winning Bronze.  Women’s baseball is wrapping up this weekend which is looking like another Canada vs. USA showdown. Same with USA women’s softball who are 5-0 going into the medal rounds this weekend.

pan am homeplate 2015

The complex is composed of 2 natural bluegrass baseball fields and 4 natural grass softball fields.  One baseball field was existing and was totally reconstructed with new dugouts and bullpens.  The premier field was a soccer pitch which was transitioned in an overlay process to be the main stadium this past spring.   It will remain a baseball field as a legacy to the event.   I don’t foresee the town ever turning it back into a soccer field after seeing team  Canada win the gold medal on the field and plant a “Toonie” at 2nd base.!!!    (That’s what Canadian teams do when they when big games.  I’ve seen it before.  They run to a grassy area and dig up a piece of grass and push the 2 dollar coin into the soil for…luck.)   At softball we had 1 premier field, 1 competition and 1 practice field.  The 4th field was used for staging of locker rooms.   These fields were upgraded with a few bells and whistles for the games as well.  We had a good time working with the town staff with training etc…before the games.

to2015 field crew

As for how the fields were designed and built,  we pretty much used every baseball field product from every distributor in America and Canada on this project.     We had 3 or 4 different soil conditioners.  3 different clay’s   A couple different tarps.   All kinds of equipment and materials.  We could’ve had a trade show!!!   The photo above says it all,  great crew and staff.  Our guys Eric, chad and Joe were amazing as usual but the Competition team and overlay team  made it work.  Thanks to Bob O.  for the vision and congrats to Canada on winning the Gold medal!

All in all a successful event…eh!

Dominican Republic Field Clinic opens new opportunity for retired players


FullSizeRenderThis past week MLB held there 4th field maintenance clinic in the Dominican Republic at the Kansas City Royal’s academy location in Boca Chica. We had over 55 attendees representing all 30 MLB clubs that operate academies on the island.  These clinics are geared towards improving field maintenance techniques and helping the turf managers with issues at their academies.  The clinics are FREE so MLB covers the costs of travel/meals and we pick up a couple sponsors to offset the costs.

This particular clinic focused on developing consistent maintenance techniques around turf management, infield clays and equipment maintenance.    We had some great speakers, helpers and sponsors from around the globe.  Sandro Moroni from Italy came over to provide some translation assistance and help with the turf discussions.  Ken Curry came down from Canada to talk about covers and the padding that they provide at Covermaster.   Rene Asprion chatted about mounds, soil conditioners and clays that diamond pro provides around the world.  Eric Ogden did a great talk on infield skin conditioning.  Good guys helping To make fields safer by sharing their knowledge and skills with others .

IMG_0819One of the coolest aspects about this particular clinic was having 10 former Dominican professional baseball players who were recently released attend the event.  It’s part of MLB’s commitment towards helping these former players with careers after baseball.   MLB’s Dominican Republic office creates educational resources for academies such as teaching English courses, life skills on how to live in the USA , how to manage your finances, etc…   These classes take place after daily workouts at each of the academies.

So now even after their baseball playing days are over,  MLB continues to help these young men find a new career.   They are introducing other careers in baseball like umpiring and stadium operations etc.. That’s just awesome!

IMAG4097Thanks to the Royals for hosting this year’s event along with their great grounds staff.  Trevor Vance goes down regularly to help them with their fields and you can really tell.

Also, a big thank you to Alex and Ishmael and the entire DR office that made multiple trips to the fed ex office to pick up Rene’s “special”  FedEx package and return it for his brochures.  (Inside joke).  Rafael you have a great group of folks in that office!

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!

koshien st

* 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!

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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A new stadium in 2014 for the Tomateros de Culiacan


Acceso estadioA new park is underway in Culiacan , mexico.  The future home of the Tomateros is designed to hold 18000 people!     Its a natural grass stadium with some wonderful site lines.  This is going to be a fun project because the city is really cool.   The architect took some time in designing the seating bowl which will generate a lot of fun for fans.   It’s going to truly be a fan friendly facility.    The planned opening is October 2014.

Campo de juegoThe owners of the club are the Ley family.  They are really excited about this new sports venue in their home town and deserve to be. They are a good family with a long history in the Mexico and the baseball community.     The club has a very strong history of winning the Mexican Winter league and has had numerous championships over the years.   This park is being constructed directly beside the current baseball stadium so  logistics will be challenging for the 2013 season but in the end,  they will have new jewel in the Mexican winter  league.   Congrats to Juan Manuel Ley Lopez, his family and the architect Jim Sevilla

“United at the Seams – Divided by Country!” Congrats to the 2013 WBC Groundcrews


???????????????????????????????With Rounds 1 and 2 coming to a close there have been some great stories and awesome competition during the first 2 weeks of the WBC.   The Games in PR were packed as were the game sin Japan.  Country pride says a lot for each of the teams competing.  I love the ground crew T-Shirts  in Taichung.  “United at the seams divided by country.”     In our case its more united by the rake…  nevertheless a pretty cool T-shirt.   The fields have played well all the way around so far.    Some really hard work by each of the crews and the local staffs in each country.     Looking forward to seeing some photos from our US ballparks that hosted some of the first round action.

2013 WBC - Tokyo Dome 035Chad Olsen has been overseeing our Japan fields, Kevin Moses,  Joe and Darrell  in Taichung and Chad K.,  Dennis and myself in San Juan along with some help from Eric, and Anthony.    Our groundcrew  in San Jaun had the tarp down to a mere 1:30 seconds.    With rains threatening almost everyday we were able to get everything in with only a slight delay on opening night.    Tough to do when  NOAA‘s  satellite services were down for a few days but they were so pumped to to a great job it made it easy.

???????????????????????????????A big thank you goes out to Deborah Martorell Meteorologist at WAPA.   She really helped us out with some accurate info until the NOAA satellite radar came back up.   Onto round two in Miami and the final in SF.     Good luck guys!

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Protecting the National Mall’s turf for the Presidential Inauguration


2013-01-19 08.42.58Today’s 57th  Presidential Inauguration in Washington DC will take place on some new turfgrass and fortunately it will be well protected by a special cover designed to allow light and rain through the product.    The National Mall recently underwent a major renovation of the first 4 panels in front of the US Capital building which you can see in my previous blogs.  Planning for the Inauguration event has been on the top of the agenda since we started with the project.

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Similar to what is used at MLB baseball stadiums for concerts,  the flooring called  Teraplast is one of several types of turf protection being used to protect the mall’s 6 1/2 acres of newly installed  tall type fescue turfgrass.   They started installing the cover about 3 days ago and will begin to remove it this afternoon when the president is heading back to the white house.

cnnWith over 400,000 sq ft of teraplast being installed in various areas around the mall including under the main tents of the CBS and CNN structures,  it’s the most ever laid in one place according to the installers.   In fact they had to obtain the flooring from multiple sports venues around the USA.

stachowicz and murray

My good friend Steve Legros is heading up the install of the cover and the mall’s new turf manager Mike Stachowicz  ( photo above) is finally on board to help bring the new grass out of dormancy and to keep it looking great.  Congrats to him on his new job and to Steve and the Teraplast crew for doing a great job at the Mall.

laying sod

New Ballparks in Puerto Rico


Over the past couple months i have spent some time checking up on some ballparks for the upcoming winter league in Puerto Rico.  The Winter League has a rich tradition in the PR.  In addition to the WL they have very strong  local Double A clubs supported by small communities around the country.  The development of ballparks for this league is really something.    Stadiums in Kayay ( top photo) , Yauco ( below), and Mayamon have recently been completed.  2000 to 4000 seat venues.

In addition  larger venues are undergoing improvements such as Manati ( Below), Junco and Hiram Bithorn.  

WBC Qualifier sites preparing for games


Rod Carew Stadium in Panama continues to make progress.  Fields and facilities are being upgraded with some major and minor improvements to host the World Baseball Classic.     Regensburg received a new infield and Taiwan will be seeing some new mounds and home plates as well as turf upgrades.    Even the training sites are planning improvements in Managua, Santiago, Cartagena .  These improvements include field clinics and training for the local staffs which establishes a higher field of play surface for the clubs to train there athletes.    Its not a surprise that “better fields make better players”.

Our Nation’s Front Yard gets new Turf!


After a light morning rain the soil was perfect for laying sod on the National Mall yesterday.  The 50 ft long x  4 ft wide fescue/bluegrass rolls of sod went down without a hitch.    Probably some of the most beautiful fescue I have ever seen that came out of Tuckahoe sod farms.  Shortly after the first few rolls were place on Panel 33 in front of the capital they turned on the big eagle rainbird irrigation  heads and they performed wonderfully.   The irrigation and drian lines are placed about 4ft deep which is just below the tent stake line.

This day has been a long time coming and it wasn’t without a lot of planning.  The sod was laid on an engineered topsoil sand blend which will be a perfect medium for growing the grass and keeping it healthy.    The National Parks services and Trust for the national mall were also on hand overseeing the installation process.  The first panel  which is about 90,000sq ft will be completed today and in another few weeks we will start on panel 29.  Congrats to Clark construction there team on making this day finally come to fruition.

Estadio Rod Carew to replace field for 2012 WBC


After 12 years it looks like Rod Carew stadium in Panama will get a new field.    After working with a great crew and staff on this field for many years,  Pandeportes and the LOC committee  is replacing the field before the 2012 World Baseball Classic qualifier in November.

The WBC is considerd the new Baseball World Cup.  The last World Cup was held here 2 years ago.   During the last world cup at Rod Carew, we had several rain outs due to pour drainage  of the outfield and infield turf areas.  The USA vs.Canada Bronze medal game was cancelled and we almost had to cancel the final.     With the rainy season ( Oct-Nov)  typically dropping an average of 12 to 15   inches of rain each month, a new field with an updated drainage system  was badly needed.   The old system served its purpose over the years. In fact back in 2003 during the Olympic Qualifier we had similar rains fall but the field was only a few years old and handled the water pretty well.

The work plan is to remove a couple feet of material which includes about 6inches of thatch of 12 year old Bermuda along with a series of geo clothe fabrics.  We will be adding a new drainage system, irrigation system,  10″inches of sand for the grass,  and the new sod will be zoysia Turfgrass.  We used zoysia on the new fields in Aguadulce and Santiago when they were renovated in 2010 for the World Cup.   They have performed very well.  Along with the  new field there will upgrades to the stadium drainage and locker rooms.  Thanks again to Gil, Guy, Lenny, Ruben and Lauren for making this happen!

http://video.telemetro.com/video/MLB-inspecciona-el-estadio-Rod-Carew/8ef814b252eb73d36b86f5d4de0dc050

1st Field Clinic in Cuba Builds Relationships


As part of the USACuba 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.

USA 4 – Cuba 3 in Opening Game of Friendly Series.


Havana –   After a crazy rain delay USA battles Cuba in the opener of the freindly series 4-3.   The teams used to play each other pretty back in the early 90’s and now they started a new set of annual games.  The Cuban players played are seasoned squad and the college level USA team did a pretty good job handling them.    A great game on a very wet night.  After an 1 1/2 rain delay we finally got the game rolling.    Heavy rains fell for an hour. No tarp was available so it was back to old school groundskeeping.  Awesome ground crew with Juan, Orlando and Elier.

MLB Wraps up Japan Series


What a week.  A lot of firsts even for this old dog.  Great games both pretty close. A’s came out ahead tonight so now the A’s and Mariners are tied for 1st place for about a week.    A lot of thanks go out to way to many people I cant remember for helping us pull this one off.  Tamba, Hokike and my man Kas.   Shawn took us through the first steps and chad Olsen played the key roll in making the event successful   Along with the masked man and moma boss.  Both supervisors that we nick named for fun

What a great crew of Japanese and American turf managers.   Couple other fun shots of the final game.

Then there is cepesdes

And my fav..UMPIRES TRAINING!

Paying it forward


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.

Dutch Honkball team win Gold at World Cup


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.

World Cup Baseball Tourney down to 8 teams


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.

Final preps underway for 2011 Baseball World Cup


The 2011 Baseball World Cup is a couple of days from starting here in Panama.  The 16 team tournament runs from Oct 2-16.   When I first came to see the ballparks back in March as part of the Winter League Evaluations,  I have watched  them transform into some nice venues for the future of the game in this country.  New Lights, Dugouts, Locker rooms fields padding maintenance equipment etc etc…  

We have had a few guys working here for while. Just Wondering if they should apply for dual citizenship.  Chad Olsen, Kevin  Moses and   Joe Skrabek have been rolling between venues.  Dennis Klein came down to help for a few days and Ryan Woodley came in Monday.    We have another group coming in this weekend.  With 4 stadium and a lot of rain we have finally turned the corner at a couple of parks.  Santiago and Aguadulce came out very nice. Chitre didn’t have as much field renovation work but had dugout and light upgrades.   hoping mother nature will give us some help. 

 I’ve been back and forth between Lagos de Moreno, USA and Panama seeing what will be happening with the much-needed upgrades at the Pan- american stadium near Guadalajara.    Have a few guys heading to Taiwan to prep for the MLB AllStar Tour in 3 different ballparks around the country.   That one starts up at the end of the month.   Its great have a awesome team and great friends in the industry to help make these tournaments successful.   Hats off the Pandeportes and the LOC for the tournament. 

If you want to watch some of the games on the web or game tracker check out this link as it continues to update with info http://www.ibaf.org/en/news/2011/09/29/ibaf-has-the-baseball-world-cup-covered/f9ba50c6-e230-46b2-8946-197249266155

 

 

1st MLB Field Maintenance Clinic in Culiacan Mexico


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.

The Baseball Field


 

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!

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