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Dear Baseball Fan,

You hustle home from work, gather up the equipment and players, and head for the ball park.  You only have time to drag the field or water it.  Which one is right?  Or do you just skip it? 
Jim's here to help you figure out what to do.

Your One Stop Place to Increase
Field Safety and Playability

  • FIELD LAYOUTS: most common mistakes on every ball field

  • TURF CARE: choosing the best sod for your infield

  • DIRT CARE: on using turface on your infield skin


  • Feedback: only time to drag it or water it.  What do I do? 

  • Did You Know... visitors do judge you by your ballfield

  • Limited Opportunity... lessons from a championship pitcher

Field Layout Mistakes on Just About Every Ballfield

There are several common mistakes made with field layout.

  1. Second base is not in the right spot. The center of the bag should be at the apex of the measurements from first and third.  For example on a 60 foot little league field, the center of second base (the base peg) should be 60 feet from first and third base.

  2. The infield mound is not the right height.  Well, I'm sure you've seen plenty of infield mounds that just don't quite look right.  They are often too high.  The last one I surveyed was 14 inches instead of 10 inches above homeplate.

  3. The pitcher rubber is out of line with home plate and it probably is not level either.  Stand on the pitching rubber and look at homeplate.  Does it look crooked? If so, measure from the back point of the plate to each side of the pitching rubber.  I've found these to be off by as much as 2 inches.  That creates a big angle off line.  This is common on fastpitch softball fields due to the pressure the pitcher puts on the rubber.

Learn about two more mistakes and see pictures here.

Choosing and Installing The Best Sod for Your Infield

This year I've seen several sod installations go bad.  There are several reasons for this. 

  1. Not doing any planning or preparation BEFORE the sod is delivered.
  2. Leaving the sod out in the sun for half a day before attempting to use it - it dried up and died.
  3. Not soaking it after laying it - the roots had little water; the grass died.
  4. And the worst of all - not watering it regularly after installation to ensure it takes - again, no water equals dead grass.

But I've also seen two installations that went very well and were ready for competitive play within three weeks.

[Note: If you
are considering sod for your field, then you need to be aware of decisions you need to make and tips and hints for successful sod installation.]

Should You Start Using Turface Today?

There are several soil conditioners available for your infield skin. Turface is one of the products to consider. 

What is Turface?- It is a calcined clay product used by the pros. These are designed specifically for sports fields to improve drainage, reduce compaction, and absorb excess water.

As good as it is, you need to use and maintain it right for it to be effective.  A college field in Santa Cruz - gets about 40 inches of rain a year - used this to keep their field more playable during the wet spring.

Want to learn more about using Turface and see examples?  Then try this: 
Turface for Your Ballfield

Feedback: I only have time to drag the field or water it.  Which should I do?

I continue to hear interesting comments from coaches and players about prepping the field before practice or games.

Some don't even think about this as a concern.  But, ask a player and you'll hear a different story.  Any infielder, especially third or short, will tell you they want a smooth field for consistent bounces.  They get the hottest smashes and want safe and true bounces.

But just about any infield or runner will also tell you they want good footing.   This is only possible if you water the skin.  And I mean soak it, not just spray it to keep the dust down.

Most batters want good footing also.  A batter box with holes full of flour dust dirt is lousy to bat from.  They want good, firm footing.

So, what do I do?  I don't much time before some practices and games and have learned to compromise. 

I start by soaking (it might even look like I left a puddle) the mound and homeplate.  I let is set untouched for at least 10 minutes and soak in. While this happens, I soak the basepaths, and the fielder's areas at first, second, short, and third.  Don't forget the dirt area in foul ground where runners at third take their lead.  I spray the rest of the field fast or skip it. 

Then I circle back with a field rake and rough up the mound and homeplate, level it out, and pack it in.  I'll try to run the rake around the area in front of the infielders also if possible. 

Is all this work worth it?  Does it really matter?  What do you think?

It's Good to Know:
A quality field helps your program be 'legit'. 

A college team I know plays their games at a city park complex.  It is a multi use ballparks shared by several leagues and teams.  The visiting teams ridiculed the field as well as the home college team.  I'll agree - most everything about the field was bad. 

Then one September all this changed.  The field was totally renovated.  In the spring when the usual opposing college teams came to play, they were astonished.  The home team went 13-3 on their new field in the spring of 2005.  The improved field helped make their program 'legit.'

[Note: If you want to see what these guys did to transform their ballfield, then check out this project - completely rebuild the entire infield on a college baseball field.]

3 Ways to Be A Championship Pitcher

Every single professional pitcher started with a dream. While playing in youth leagues they dreamed of someday making to the big leagues.

The breakdown seems to occur as these young boys grow up and don’t get the most important parts of their dream – best instruction for mechanics, fitness, and mental focus.

Without proper instruction, you are not keeping up with the competition, relegating your pitcher to arm injuries, and you are closing the doors to the dream.

A very sad day… that can be avoided.

Continual instruction for your pitcher is critical. And a championship pitcher is made 3 ways.

For the complete report click the link below.  But, be aware that the pitching instruction opportunity is limited to the area where this pitcher lives and plays.

Learn more here...

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

Speak out.  Use the Better Fields for Better Play contact form.

All contents of this ezine are copyright 2007 by The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide. 

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