young man is on his way to his MLB tryout.
He is now playing
for his freshman high school baseball team. He has to take his play to
the next level. As a freshman his baseball team practiced on the asphalt
parking lot. This sounds bad, but the parking lot never had a rain out!
The home field just
so happened to be the same all-dirt infield where this young man had the
all-star ending injury to his hand as a 13 year old. The key to
a good all dirt infield is to drag it often to keep it smooth and level.
Through a strange
turn of events this young man moved to a different high school for his
last three years. This turned out to be the best thing he ever did for
his baseball career. However, it wasn’t going to be easy: great
coaching, pathetic playing field.
This school's baseball
field was a work in progress. The field was 2 years old. It was actually
the old dumping area behind the high school and had been covered with
some dirt and turf to turn it into a baseball field. There were bad bounces
all over and an occasional chunk of cement or metal that poked up through
the turf or dirt.
The young man and
his dad wanted to greatly improve this. How? they wondered. It just so
happened that the local AAA baseball team had just earned the sports
turf manager of the year award.
So, this seemed to
be a good place to start. They arranged a visit and tour of park and had
a chance to talk with the groundskeepers about maintenance
at a AAA baseball field. If you have a local MLB or minor league
team, see if you can arrange a tour with the groundskeeper. It will be
a huge learning opportunity.
The young man and
his team learned the turf
maintenance process here. Though most teams do this work in the early
spring, it turns out that the fall is actually the best time to do this
And at this school
they were constantly adding
more baseball dirt each spring. You can see this in a photo
story also here
and see the entire process step by step.
your school or league make this mistake?
This high school that
let its field go to pot during the summer and fall so spring was a killer
getting it ready to go. Why have every spring be such a challenge when
just a little effort throughout the summer and fall – like simply
mowing it weekly – makes it so much easier in the spring?
This is where the
team developed a ball
park checklist to help figure out what to do each spring to bring
their ball park up to playing standards.
On the other hand,
the field work as well as the baseball play itself helped this young man
learn many lessons – team work, discipline, and personal responsibility.
It just so happens
that during these last three years of high school, the young man’s
dad was actively involved with the booster club. Since money was always
tight and there was so much improvement work to do on this new ball park,
the dad worked on a grant
application with MLB to improve the field. He also learned much about
the most effective ways to do any kind of fund
This young man’s
team made it to the playoffs each year. In fact his younger brother's
team went to the state
baseball finals. Such was this young man’s play that he was
recruited by a few colleges. In the end he chose a college within a couple
hundred miles of home. It was a small college, but seemed to be a good
place to start.
However his first
college would have challenges way beyond anything he experienced in little
league or high school. In part 4 of this series we’ll find out how
they boldly did something that astounded the entire community.
P.S. Only 1 out of 200 players make it this far. Will
Check here to find out what you can do to create a winning baseball