Upgrading your baseball experience - part 4

Upgrading Your Baseball Experience
 


In part 1 of the player with a winning baseball field we started to follow a young man from childhood to his MLB tryout.

And in part 2 we saw 7 case studies of baseball fields gone bad - how injuries are an unfortunate part of the game.

In part 3 we found out what everyone wants - to take their play to the next level.

Now in part 4 the player needs to upgrade his baseball experience to continue on his way to his MLB tryout.

 

baseball player


Off to college baseball!

So the young man in our story (the player with a winning baseball field) is off to college baseball. Just getting this far is a dream for many. And his mom and dad certainly are jazzed about it.

The young man has grown in stature, skill, and experience. The training and discipline of high school baseball really was an investment in lifelong habits for success. And he had a great coach who thinks in terms of results.

Now the rest of the story about his first college baseball field.

This college was located in the mountains of Scotts Valley. What a magnificent setting. However, the ball field the team used was in Santa Cruz – about 7 miles away. It was a local park and rec field. In fact it was the only grass infield hard ball field in the city.

Now this was an old park in a forest setting near the coast. The locals said the field was at least 50 years old.

old baseball field

So, what you had there was an infield with a huge hump in the middle. Fifty years of adding dirt to the mound and 35 inches plus of rain a year had washed mound dirt out towards the infield. There was now a 30 foot radius hump in middle of the field. The mound was probably 15-20 inches higher than home plate by now also.

What happened to the any grounder when it hit this raised up area? Right. It bounced crooked. Errors abounded. This was definitely not a field up to collegiate baseball standards.

Oh, I forgot to tell you this.

When he first saw the baseball field from afar as he drove up, he wondered what this was? The infield dirt of every field in this complex was gray. It looked like a concrete infield. What was it? Turns out it was what they called gray track fines – ground up gray rock. The infield skin was either dry as flour dust or hard as a rock. No in between.

So, check this out.

Sometimes the best baseball fields to renovate are the disasters like this. The problems are just so bad that it is relatively easy to make significant and immediate improvements. 

Except maybe the park and rec folks don't believe you when you talk about fixing up the field.  And on top if it the local officials might be real hesitant to let you ‘touch’ their ball park. You have to make them an offer they can’t refuse. Really need to sell your project to give their park a face-lift.

Here is the story of the daring achievement of 20 young men who invested in the future of their community, their college, and their baseball team.

The renovation of the college baseball field in the autumn of 2004 excited the players and the park workers. The concept captured the imagination of local officials as well as regional businesses.

Here's a 45 second video summarizing the baseball field renovation project
(Sorry about the grainy look to this.  I was still figuring out how to do this.)

Here’s a quick snapshot of the work on the mound.

fixing a bad mound

renovated baseball field

You can see the entire case study of the major infield renovation here in the project gallery.

Well, this young man had a great time his first two years in college.

In fact it was a bit too much fun. Dorm life can be hard on a scholar and an athlete. And he became one of the better ones at pranks – like the goat in the girl’s dorm. But we won’t go there. He went to school to play baseball. So, unfortunately at this point he applied minimum effort in his classes. And you get out of it what you put into it.

About mid way through his sophomore year he realized he needed to upgrade his baseball and his academics. So, in his junior year he transferred to one of the best schools in one of the toughest leagues in college baseball. This was a courageous move, but well worth it. Sometimes you have to be willing to push yourself... academically and competitively.

TMC field

The young man’s new baseball field was an artificial turf field. The only ‘real’ part of the field was the mound. As a pitcher he took pride in taking care of it and could regularly be seen tamping and manicuring ‘his’ mound after games and practices.

The young man learned a lot from his college coaches. One fellow in particular had been a MLB catcher for 13 years. Believe it or not, this fellow was an exceptional pitching coach. A man of much wisdom was Chris Bando.

A couple things about artificial turf for those who might be yearning for just such a thing: it is extremely slippery when wet. Players sliding into bases on the wet field would end up 15 feet past the base. And it is extremely hot in the summer. Studies show artificial turf fields can be well over 120 degrees when it is over 85 outside. That’s hot. Just so you know.

One of his highlights as a senior was pitching in a exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox minor league team in Lancaster CA. Just competing like this fueled his dream for the MLB.

 

pitching


While growing up, this young man played with some very talented players. In our next segment of the player with the winning field he meets up with one of his fellow all stars from senior league. We’ll find out just how important it is to apply what you learn.

This young man upgraded his baseball experience. His field, his level of competition, and his academics. How about you and your baseball field? Do you need to do this? Check here to find out what you can do to create a winning baseball field.

Did you benefit from this article?

If you enjoyed reading this article, then visit the baseball field blog to see other blog posts that can help you improve your baseball field experience and take it to the next level!

To your success,
Jim Reiner