in Texas writes:
currently trying to get with my city to work on their baseball fields.
every field that the city owns is in very terrible condition. I played
4 years minor league baseball, and going from those playing fields to
these is by far no match, not even close. I'm not saying that these fields
should be in that particular condition, but come on, the city workers
only mow the field once a week, thats it.
no raking, no packing, the pitcher mound has holes, the batter box has
holes. This goes for the big fields, little league fields, etc.
This town is even more of a baseball town than any other sport.
the process of getting this put back together to get baseball fields the
way that they need to be. Even the average player will have a big confidence
boost, playing on a great field!
perspective, what are some ways that I could approach the city?. I have
a job already, so this isn't a thing to just get a job. I love baseball.
I have passion for baseball.
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You are getting to the very heart of the matter.
I will take some time with you on this. You need to overcome obstacles.
A picture postcard
perfect field is nice.
But it's way more than that.
is an investment in the community. Something for them
to take pride in. It's an investment in the youth of
our future. Through sports they develop lifelong habits for success.
Not only that,
no player will ever reach their potential if the playing field is substandard.
We certainly don't want to be holding them back, or worse yet, cause an
injury because the ball field is not really safe and playable.
you are dealing with the city park and rec manager, he
may first think you are trying to sell him something when you offer to
help improve the ball fields. There may be other obstacles too. They may
not let you use any of their equipment. They might let you do anything
without a waiver of liability. They might not let you do certain things
due to union rules. They will be surprised anyone wants to do something
and has a plan. And they will tell you they have no money. Nada. Zero.
give up. You need them. And they need you. Both of you would like to overcome
obstacles to the projects.
folks working for the city in the park department are there because they
like the outdoors and really would like nice looking parks. But
with limited people and money, they have to cut back and often do less
than they would even like to.
a plan. Take some pictures of the fields. Bad as well as good.
Hopefully you have some good ones there or else copy pictures from my
website to use. Use the checklists on my website to do a ball park audit
for a field as an example. It very definitively shows anyone exactly what
the issues are and why they should care.
together a binder. Put pictures, plans, and sample budgets in
there. Use the case study projects on my website as examples. Find out
some preliminary costs to start with. Get estimates for a dump truck of
top soil, topdressing, sand, clay, baseball mix. This knowledge will give
you an advantage. Tell them you are getting together projects to improve
the local parks. They should be interested in being part of that.
Pictures and plans overcome obstacles to vague ideas.
with the board or presidents of the leagues. Little league, high
school, PONY leagues, etc. Use the binder as visuals to explain what you
want to do for them and how this will be a better baseball experience
for all of you.
Do you know of
any injuries due to crummy fields? Ask the league board members what they
know - bad hops in throats, split fingers, cuts and punctures from bad
fencing, sprained ankles from lip build up, etc. I didn't make these up.
These are real right where I am.
your experience in the minor leagues as an example. I would assume
you played on some decent fields. The point is that your fields right
there where you are can play and look just about as good with some work.
about it as a face lift instead of a renovation. Government managers
seem to think a facelift is simpler. Renovation seems to conjure up too
much time and money in their minds. I ran into this several times. I did
major rip ups, tear ups, rebuilds, and got away with it only because I
called it a facelift.
have to work on just one field to start with so they see what is involved
and how fast it can be improved. Consider one field as a test
case to prove what can be done. I've successfully used this approach
before. Pick a complex with 3 or 4 fields. Improve one for the 11-12 year
olds. The other parents, players, and coaches will see it and want their
fields upgraded too. Nothing like some peer pressure to help move it along
and overcome obstacles.
funding... you will need money for the projects, let alone getting
paid for your time and expertise. You could consider yourself as the general
contractor and your workforce could be the volunteers from the various
leagues. See if the leagues have any funds and equipment you can work
with. Many have a snack bar. This is often the number one source of revenue.
See if you can tap into it. This is the right time of year as they make
their plans and budgets for spring. I met with a local little league board
in early January. I asked for about $1500 for equipment and supplies and
gave them a detailed list. I got it. You can overcome obstacles about
be surprised if some people take exception to you moving forward to do
this. Anytime anyone steps out to make improvements in anything,
there will be critics. I did a fantastic job with some college
players on their field and there was this one guy. All he did was complain
about how he had wanted to fix this up for years. So along I came and
fixed in two weeks. Nothing but sour grapes... until his one son got to
play PONY league on it. Then his tune changed.
mentioned that it is a baseball town. This can help. More than
likely the town leaders and business owners themselves played on these
fields. Their children play on the fields. They'd all sure like them to
be something they are proud of. And I'm sure they would like to be part
of making it happen. For some, they will donate funds or supplies. See
if you can put out advertising for them - fence signs or ads in the programs.
story. I was doing a renovation at a community park in a small, older
coastal town in CA. The guy bringing in a truck load of dirt was so excited.
He drove onto the field between 1B and 2B to dump the dirt. Then he got
out and immediately called his wife on his cell phone. He was so excited.
He told her he was on the same field where their son caught the last out
of a championship game several years ago. He was on the very spot! Smiled
all the time as he finally dumped the dirt and drove away. True story.
Tap into that kind of emotion.
have the passion. But you can't do it alone. You need to see if
you can develop a small core group of 3-5 people who are behind
this. Believe it or not, some of the best advocates will be the ladies.
So see if you can get a mix of people. This helps overcome obstacles and
are happy when the children are happy. When the children are having fun,
so are the parents. The goal at the end of every season (spring
or fall ball) should be that they say, 'this was fun, let's do it again
next year.' You want them to come back. Are your leagues suffering
from declining sign ups? Are the leagues struggling with budgets as a
result? Well, this is one way, maybe the best way, to get them coming
back or showing up for the first time. Of course, the coaches and players
need to be polite, respectful, and encouraging too during the season.
thought... there are more things I think you should consider. So here
goes. Realize that in a lot of the leagues it is run be volunteers who
rotate often. So each year you get a new batch of people along with some
veterans. This makes a difference. They are at varying levels of commitment
and involvement themselves. Keep this in mind. The government side may
be different. You might have to deal with someone who has been there a
long time. The point is you need to think about what kind of response
you want and can get from different people.
Ah, if it could
all just be about dirt and turf. But it is not.
It is about people. And that, my friend, is the very heart of
work through this and you want to bounce ideas around, let me know. You
are a hero. They just don't realize it yet.
another article I wrote about how to overcome obstacles with your proposals
to improve your baseball fields.
I wish you the