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21 Baseball Dirt Maintenance Blunders and How to Avoid Them
June 16, 2007  --  Issue 17
Better Fields for Better Play
Jim Reiner

I'll admit it.   I wouldn't have been able to create this list unless I had first-hand experience with dirt maintenance blunders and goofs myself.

I try to avoid these now.  So should you.  Ready for the list of blunders?  Here goes:

  1. Raking across the basepath causes a low spot to develop in the middle of the basepath.
  2. Raking or squeagying water out of the basepath going across onto the grass will cause lip build up fast.
  3. Adding nothing but crushed red brick to the whole field including the basepaths results in poor footing and bad hops.
  4. Neglecting the basepath. What do you expect it will end up looking like?
  5. Neglecting to edge the grass on the basepath. You'll end up with bad hops.
  6. Use a sod cutter too deep when edging and you'll end up with a dip and lip that needs to be filled in with baseball dirt. You want to fix lip buildup, not make it worse.
  7. Ignore homeplate care. Big mistake. It seems to be common when a field is shared by many teams and leagues. Poor dirt maintenance overall happens.
  8. Not providing access to the tools and hose to take care of the dirt area.
  9. Just fill in the foot holes with dry dirt. That doesn't help. Unless... your sprinklers totally soak the dirt area at night for at least 20 minutes and then you have hot, sunny weather the next day to bake and harden the dirt. Otherwise, just filling the holes with dry dirt is worthless. Nobody wants to use that. It disintegrates after a couple batters and does not provide good footing.
  10. Always entering and exiting the field at the same place with the drag. It's not unusual for a field to have a lump or high place at 3B or 1B where the drag always stops leaving a build up of dirt.
  11. A big mistake - not dragging before or after games and practices. Just letting your infield dirt go to pot.
  12. If you pull a drag behind a tractor, don't drive too fast. It doesn't smooth it out and causes build up on the turns.
  13. And, of course dragging past the dirt onto the grass is a very bad idea and will cause a lip buildup.
  14. Ignore mound care. Another big mistake. It seems to be common when a field is shared by many teams and leagues.
  15. Not providing access to the tools and hose to take care of the mound.  No tools = no dirt maintenance.
  16. Just fill in the pitcher's landing holes with dry dirt. That doesn't help. No pitcher wants to have that. It provides no good footing at all.
  17. Not having a table top to your mound. A mound is not supposed to look like a bump or a hill on the field. It needs a large flat area at the top and then gradual sloping to the grass. Otherwise the thing is actually dangerous for a pitcher. For example, a high school size mound should have a top that is 3 feet by 5 feet and level.
  18. Mound height is wrong. Next to the wrong distance from homeplate to second base, this is the most common mistake. Many mounds are not the right height.
  19. Ignoring your warning track and letting it become overgrown with weeds and grass. Then it no longer serves its purpose - a warning track.
  20. Not analyzing your current dirt mix and just ordering another truck load of crushed brick is a bad idea. You might just be making an existing problem worse.
  21. Some infields are made totally of DG, fines, or crushed brick. Walk on one of these after a game on a warm day. It will be like walking on flour dust and you'll be swimming in it. Don't put this on the field. The correct dirt mix is made of clay, silt, and sand.

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

Jim Reiner
Publisher, Editor, & Groundskeeper
The Ultimate Baseball Field Renovation Guide

[Note: avoid these dirt maintenance blunders and do the job right. See the section on baseball dirt maintenance.]

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