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Better Fields for Better Play issue #13 - Fixes to common problems
April 30, 2009

Baseball Field Maintenance Ezine

Dear Baseball Fan,

Can you answer this question, "how do I take my field to the next level?"  In this newsletter Jim takes you through some hot topics whether you are a beginner or a seasoned veteran.  Let your field do your talking for you!


Issue 13

April 2009

Highly
Recommended


Popular
Articles

How to tell if you water enough

The most important thing for your turf

How to conquer your greatest time killer

How to bust through funding barriers - part 2







Archives

Article Archive








Inspiration

"You will never have significant success with anything until it becomes an obsession with you." -- Coach Gunter.

 


What Others are Saying:


"I can’t thank you enough for all the baseball field tips you’ve given me for our home field. The sod cutter was amazing and worked like a dream. You can take pride that those straight baselines are because of your advice! Again, thanks for all your tips!"

Angela Neustifter, Dallas TX


"Hi, your website is very insightful and I was surprised to find it to be honest."

Jonathan Hunter, Cal Ripken league in Terre Haute, IN.


"I just took over our LL field and thanks to all your ideas and guides
I'm already a pro sort of."

Matt


"We have had a lot of rain & hardly any puddles after hard
rains. We have worked them like your website says. Thanks for all the tips!"

Josh, New Albany


 



Your One Stop Place to Increase
Field Safety and Playability
This issue available on the web at:
www.ultimate-baseball-field-renovation-guide.com/baseball-field-ezine-april-2009.html

FEATURES:
  • BASEBALL FIELD RENOVATION: Where do I start?

  • EDGING & LIP REMOVAL: It's all about the sod cutter

  • AFTER IT RAINS: Removing pools of water

ALSO IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Putting together a budget for reconditioning a field

  • Weed control with spike dragging

  • The awful truth about chalk dust for foul lines

  • How to mark and cut the outter infield skin grass line

My Field is in Really Bad Shape.  Where Do I Start?

Hi. I am starting on my eagle project and am planing to redo a field at my church. It is in really bad shape. If you could help me it would be nice. Thanks, T.J.

Hi T.J.,
I can help you. You need to create a plan based on what you are trying to fix. The good news for you is that I have templates you can follow and fillout to do this.

So, here is a link to surf through to start with. After you skim these you probably will have some questions. Send those to me.

Here you go:
http://www.ultimate-baseball-field-renovation-guide.com/get-started.html


My All Time Favorite Sod Cutter - What Is It?

I am considering the purchase of a sod cutter, and I am interested to know the make/model of the sod cutter captioned as "My all time favorite!" on the edger page. Thanks! Phil

Hi Phil,

You're refering to the picture and description at:
http://www.ultimate-baseball-field-renovation-guide.com/edger.html

I really like the Turfco Kiss Cutter model. It is relavitely light weight, has the 4 pneumatic tires and handles well. There is a similar model made by Billy Goat.   I rent only the Turfco model for jobs I do.

And just to round this out there is a larger model by Bluebird that also has 4 tires and works too.  I avoid the sod cutters with a roller in the back instead of tires.  This design is often hard to keep level and straight.  You want the best for your baseball field maintenance efforts.

Have fun with it!


Removing Large Rain Puddles

I am trying to find out how we can get a field ready that has large pools of standing water. HELP! Marty.

Hi Marty,

A couple ways to deal with pools of water from rain:

1. dig a small ditch to drain it; an option, but not my favorite.

2. use a squeegy to push the water off... my choice if possible. I use a floor squeeqy with a long handle. These are available at Home Depot or Lowes for about $20. A good tool to have in your baseball shed. The squeegy can push the water without also pushing so much baseball mix and making an even deeper area.

Once the you do either of the above you need to level it out or the water will pool again at the next rain. You have a surface drainage problem to fix. You either have to move existing dirt to level it or add more dirt to fill in the low spot.

Hope that helps. Have a great spring season!


Putting Together a Budget For Reconditioning a Field

I am doing a project on reinstating the college baseball team. I
am trying to compile a budget that includes reconditioning the playing surface of our field . Can you help me put together an estimate for the field dirt, warning track surface and anything needed to recondition the outfield, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you. Nick S., Varsity Assistant Coach

Hi Nick, Here's some general ideas to start with:

35 tons of baseball mix to the infield - $800
2 tons of Turface MVP to condition the infield dirt - $600
50 pounds of grass seed and 50 pounds of fertilizer to the infield turf - $130.
35 tons of a decomposed granite mix to the outfield warning track - $800
250 pounds of seed and 250 pounds of fertilizer to the outfield turf -
$650.

Rent an aerator for a day to core aerate - $100
Rent a sod cutter for a day to edge and get rid of lips - $85
Rent a tractor with a smooth bucket loader and a rear tiller to spread and mix the dirt - $300
You probably could use about $100 worth of weedkiller too.

So, there you have it. Hope that helps. If you have more questions, let me know. This is a rough idea to start with.  Don't be overwhelmed with baseball field  maintenance. Take it bit by bit.


Weed Control With Frequent Spike Dragging

I have a huge problem with grass coming up all over the infield dirt on our little league fields!  The parents put new dirt on the field, but the grass came up through it the next week almost like it fertilized the field. Can you tell me what to use to kill and control these grasses? Adam.

Hi Adam,

The fastest way to get rid of weeds and grass sprouting and growing in the infield dirt is to drag it with a nail drag or a spike drag. These are usually 4 feet by 2 feet wood or metal frames with 100+ nails or small spikes sticking down 2 inches. You can easily build one yourself.

Sometimes you have to add weight to the nail drag to get it to dig in and rip out the grass or weeds. This also works best if the ground has been moistened first to soften it up a bit. For example, the day after a rain storm is a good time to do this.

You can also spray weedkiller, but it seems that you want the weeds out immediately. An alternative at the grass edges is to use a hula hoe to get rid of the grass or weeds growing past the edge.


The Awful Truth about Chalk Dust for Marking Lines

I am a manager of a little league team and I used some dry up dirt after a bad storm. To my amazment, the mix contained crystalline silica, which is found in alot of natural clay products. This stuff causes cough, dyspnea (breathing difficulty), wheezing, decr (decreased pulmonary functions), progressive respiratory symptoms (silicosis), irritated eyes. The material we use to line the field also contains some of the same ingredience. Are there any products that are safe for our children to play on without developing cancer. Most kids play from age 5 to age 20 or more. That's 15 years of inhaling this stuff before they're even out of college.  Glenn.

Hi Glenn,

You are not alone in being concerned about breathing all that stuff in the chalk dust or line marking powder. 

My favorite alternative is to use marking paint for the lines. These turn out very sharp, last through a game, and are easy to remove when dragging - unlike chalk buildup that is hard to get rid of.

I like the water based marking paint. I get 20oz cans of white from World Class Paints for about $2.50 a can. They come in a 12 can case. There are probably suppliers of marking paint near you. Check it out. You do need a small push cart the can mounts in. Squeeze the trigger as you walk a stringer and you get a nice line.

Tip: moisten the dirt a bit, then apply the paint. Paint sprayed on dry dirt is not as solid looking.


How to Cut the Outside Edge of the Infield

Our next project on our field is to use a sod cutter to fix the outside edge of our infield. I know that it should be an arc at 95' from the pitching rubber, but what is the easiest way to mark it. Straight lines are easy using string and spikes but curves are a bit harder. Do you have any tricks for marking the arc?  Eric, High School Baseball in Colorado

Hi Eric,

Here's how I do it.

Tools required: stringer, screw driver, can of white marking spray paint - held upside down to spray, tape measure, maybe a hammer if your ground is real hard.

I tie a small loop at the end of the stringer line. I insert the screw driver in the loop and push it into the ground centered and just in front of the pitching rubber. Hammer it in if it is hard.

Then I walk to the grass cutout behind 1B holding the stringer and letting it unwind as I go. I measure out 95 feet on the string. Then with the string pulled tight I walk the arc and spray white paint as I go. I find it works fine just to give a squirt every 3 or 4 feet instead of a continuous line. Then I use the sod cutter to follow the dots to make a perfect cutout.

Tip: I do it this way - going from 1B to 3B since I'm right handed. At the 95 foot length on the stringer I have the spray can in my right hand and wrap some of the slack around one of my fingers so I can keep the string tight as I walk and squirt paint as I go. This defintely works best if you use marking paint cans that are held upside down to spray.

That's it. A perfect arc for your high school baseball field.

One more thing.
A mistake to avoid:

Your outfield sprinklers should be out beyond the 95 foot arc if they were installed to spec. However, you might want to turn on the sprinklers and mark them just to make sure they are past the 95 foot arc. If they end up being closer, you can bet a sod cutter will do some serious damage to a sprinkler - yes, I've done that.

I've shortened the arc more than a few times to accomodate sprinklers not in the right place. For example, I've shorted up the arc by 1-5 feet so the sprinklers are still 6 inches in the grass past the arc. It's OK to improvise if you have to.

Have fun with your next project!



Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide

P.S.  Success with Baseball Field Maintenance is possible.  For those who really want to master field maintenance check out the new handbook.  It is titled: How to Transform Your Baseball Field into a Winning Field - Helping You Master Field Maintenance.

baseball field maintenance handbook

   

Have a Question for Jim Reiner?  Have an Idea to Share with Readers?


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