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Conversation with the Turf Manager of the Year
June 7, 2007  --  Issue 11
Better Fields for Better Play
Jim Reiner

September 11, 2002 -- WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- The Pacific Coast League today named Sacramento River Cats Head Groundskeeper Matt LaRose its “Sports Turf Manager of the Year” for the 2002 season.

In part one of my conversation with the groundskeepers at Raley Field I learned about the dirt and grass mix used as well as interesting tidbits about the facility. 

Today we continue the conversation and find out more about ongoing field maintenance.  And to top it off we'll get some professional advice for improving your field.

Jim: I know a quality field requires ongoing care.   What do you do here to keep this looking and playing so nice?

Roy: The top dressing after core aeration is a combination of organic material and sand. We never mix dirt types.  We put sand on the infield, clay on the mound, clay/sand mixture on the infield dirt.

We also use solid tine aerators. These can be used anytime and have less constraints than the core aerator - no cores to chop or let settle. 

Between games we use tarps on the mound, home plate, and the bullpens to keep the clay material from drying out and cracking.

baseball field with tarps on mound and homeplate

We change mowing patterns regularly to keep the grass growing even and to give the ball true bounce and roll.  At this level of play this is important.

A couple times a year we hose the lip of the grass to blast any dirt out that might accumulate from drags.  Got to absolutely prevent any lip buildup.

grass edge on the baseball field

We have separate pits where they store our sand, clay, and crushed brick.

In our maintenance area we have a board posting the field maintenance and care plan for the day and for the week. It's easy to see what is supposed to get done.

baseball field product pits

And we use heavy rollers to maintain a smooth, flat infield dirt.  One of the secrets of a smooth flat infield.

Jim: How about some professional suggestions for anyone just starting out or wanting to improve their ballpark?

Pat: We originally used corrugated drain piping. This left water standing that led to some very bad odors. We replaced it with smooth piping and suggest you use smooth drain piping also.

Tony: I'd suggest that once you make your field ‘nice’ that you open it up for local playoffs and tournaments.  If your facility allows, you should include video feeds of the games from the press box. Use it for training, clinics, camps, coaches, and player instruction. I regularly videotapes games for Curt Young and Roy White - our pitching and hitting coaches.  I'd suggest you run the baseball training camps in October and November and get MLB players or River Cats players to help out.

Pat: We are constantly adding electrical panels and wiring to accommodate needs. I'd suggest that you wire in extra capacity from the start. You never know what you'll end up needing.

-- end of part 2 --

Hey, wasn't this great talking with pros who maintain one of the best minor league fields in America?   What did you learn that you can immediately use on your field?  Read it again if you need to. Then go out and do your part for everyone to have a better baseball experience.

Yours for better play more often,

J. Reiner

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

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