CARE : how one small change can make a huge difference for your
FUNDRAISING: helpful hints for funding your baseball field maintenance
PLANNING: on conquering your greatest time killer
IN THIS ISSUE:
the debate rages on... and on
It's Good to Know... Laying out your bullpens
Add "thatcher" to your arsenal of field equipment
The Single Most Important Thing You Can Do For Your Sports Turf
Aerification is the most important turf maintenance practice.
It helps loosen compacted soils so air and water can get to your
The holes left by a core aerator can be filled in with the topdressing,
seed, and fertilizer in other turf maintenance steps. Aerification
alone is still a big plus for your turf.
and hints for the job
- It is best
to run an aerator in an X pattern across your
- I prefer
the walk-behind machines that mechanically drive
the tines into the ground. This approach provides a more even
distribution of aeration and allows the depth of the tines to
remove the core plugs. They'll
get ground up when mowing and slowly dissolve back into the subsurface
as a type of topdressing.
to aerate? I do this preseason (early February)
mid season (late April or early May) and late in the fall (October
the details here.
2-Step Program to Bust Through Funding Barriers
When Kevin called
to ask for advice, I had a good idea what the subject of our discussion
would be: Did I think he should keep trying to raise money
for his field maintenance projects?
"Maybe trying to build a field of dreams just isn't possible,"
Kevin told me. He admitted that asking for donations was hard
enough as it is, but it was especially frustrating when he came
back empty handed after the awkwardness of asking.
From my experience as a past president of a baseball booster club
and completing four major field reconstruction projects,
I told Kevin there are two things you need to do to bust
through fund raising barriers.
1. You will have a better long term success
funding your baseball field projects if you start with your 'reason
Think this through. You'll use this to market your program.
A fund raising message without a reason for being is just too vague
to get many folks to commit money to your program.
how you come up with a clear statement for your program's reason
sentence below: (this helps you develop your fund raising message)
helps (whom?) do (what?) better than any other program in the world
how I used this for a youth baseball team I worked with:
helps young men develop life long habits for success by combining
athletics, character building, and personal responsibility.
The program is run by experts who don't just teach baseball, but
have demonstrated success with 6 straight years of championships
and 7 players with college scholarships."
You need to
think about your own program and complete the sentence. Develop
your own fund raising message.
I worked with
this and settled on two short phrases:
lifelong habits for success
young men develop lifelong habits for success
next most important point in your fund raising message is to
be very specific about what you are going to use the money
people exactly how much you need and how you are going to use it.
Don't just say, "I need money for my baseball program." Instead
say, "I need $300 to replace fence parts, $510 for dirt to make
the field safer and more playable, and $210 for field maintenance
equipment." You'll get a better response. Guaranteed.
Here's a real world example. A team needed
to raise money to cover travel, food, and lodging expenses during
their spring season. A generic letter was created for
the players to use. Players had a goal to raise $300.
Those players using the generic "please donate to support
our program" raised about $300.
One player customized the support letter and included specifics
about money needed: locations of travel (city and opponent team),
how they'd travel (passenger vans), need for lunch/dinner (simple
fast food), and type of lodging (bunching up in a hotel or staying
with host families). He even included personal info about the position
he played and some of his own needs (sunflower seeds, gum, gatorade,
The customized letter with specifics raised over $3,000.
along with a good 'reason for being' taps into the emotion of benevolence
and really motivates people. People want to make a contribution
that counts. Not just for another box of baseballs, but to
be part of something bigger with a lasting accomplishment.
[Note: If you need a bigger dose of motivation to
help you achieve your funding goals for your ball field maintenance
projects -- check out
the hidden secrets
of fund raising success for your ball field projects.]
Making Better Plans Today
I used to
get so anxious to work on a ball field that sometimes I didn't
take time to plan. After all, I'd worked on so many baseball
fields and softball fields that knew what to do. Or so I
What I'm talking about here is your pre-season effort or the work
you do before hosting tournaments.
Unfortunately, I've learned the hard way that itís better
to do 15 minutes of planning before you start these major projects.
That way you'll incorporate the right materials,
the right equipment, and the right labor to get the job done.
Here's how to start making better plans today.
Use a ballpark audit checklist. Go through the
checklist and determine the overall condition of your ballpark.
When you are done, you'll know exactly what your ball field condition
is and exactly what you need to do to fix problem areas or prevent
something from becoming a problem.
what your audit checklist should cover:
Surface – Infield Dirt Area
Playing Surface – Grass
Playing Surface – General Areas
Bases & Anchoring
General Safety of the Ball Park
that a checklist is the way to go. It also shows me where
the priority areas area: safety. I'm sure you could make
up your own checklist, or just go out and walk your entire field
and take notes.
If you want a starter checklist that I've used,
or Pre-Tournament BallPark Checklist
The Debate Over What Makes Good Footing
I continue to
hear interesting comments from coaches and parents about what makes
good footing for players.
Some don't even think about this as a concern. But, ask a
player and you'll hear a different story. Players, age 10
and up, are starting to play more competitive baseball. By the time
they are high school and college, good footing is a necessity.
And I mean good footing as a fielder, a base runner, a pitcher,
and as a batter.
is the result of two things: moist and firm dirt.
By this time of year the shortcuts on the infield dirt are starting
to show: Lack of deep watering. Just push the dry, powdering
dirt back into the batter box holes. Push the dry dirt back
into the pitching mound holes. Ignore dragging the infield
before/after games and practice.
It takes time and effort to water, pack, firm it up, and water again.
It takes coordination on a multi use field. It can be done.
this is the debate - is all this work worth it? Does it really
matter? What do you think?
Good to Know: Laying Out Your Bullpens
If you want your
pitchers to really warm up ready for game conditions, then layout
the bullpen in the same direction as the infield mound. That
way the pitcher is throwing in the same general direction both warming
up and in the game. This is critical if there is any kind
of wind blowing across our field. If want to give your pitchers
the opportunity to perform at their highest level, this will help.
"thatcher" To Your Arsenal of Field Equipment
The most common use for a thatcher is to remove thatch from the
turf in the fall.
These walk-behind machines are self-propelled and spin a series
of metal cutters at varying depths to remove thatch - dead grass
that accumulates after mowing.
There are at
least three more ways you can use a thatcher on your baseball field.
- lower the
setting and you can lightly till the turf subsurface before overseeding
- run the
thatcher over your infield skin to get rid of smaller weeds growing
- use the
thatcher as an edger if you have minor grass growing past the
edge and don't have a lip problem