Taking your play to the next level - part 3

Taking Your Baseball Field
to the Next Level

In part 1 of the player with a winning baseball field we started to follow a young man from childhood to his MLB tryout.

And in part 2 we saw 7 case studies of baseball fields gone bad - how injuries are an unfortunate part of the game.

Here in part 3 we find out what everyone wants - to take their play to the next level.

young basball player

This young man is on his way to his MLB tryout.

He is now playing for his freshman high school baseball team. He has to take his play to the next level. As a freshman his baseball team practiced on the asphalt parking lot. This sounds bad, but the parking lot never had a rain out!

The home field just so happened to be the same all-dirt infield where this young man had the all-star ending injury to his hand as a 13 year old. The key to a good all dirt infield is to drag it often to keep it smooth and level.

Through a strange turn of events this young man moved to a different high school for his last three years. This turned out to be the best thing he ever did for his baseball career. However, it wasn’t going to be easy: great coaching, pathetic playing field.

This school's baseball field was a work in progress. The field was 2 years old. It was actually the old dumping area behind the high school and had been covered with some dirt and turf to turn it into a baseball field. There were bad bounces all over and an occasional chunk of cement or metal that poked up through the turf or dirt.

original site of ball field   2 year old high school field

The young man and his dad wanted to greatly improve this. How? they wondered. It just so happened that the local AAA baseball team had just earned the sports turf manager of the year award.

So, this seemed to be a good place to start. They arranged a visit and tour of park and had a chance to talk with the groundskeepers about maintenance at a AAA baseball field.  If you have a local MLB or minor league team, see if you can arrange a tour with the groundskeeper. It will be a huge learning opportunity.

The young man and his team learned the turf maintenance process here. Though most teams do this work in the early spring, it turns out that the fall is actually the best time to do this work.

And at this school they were constantly adding more baseball dirt each spring.  You can see this in a photo story also here and see the entire process step by step.

finished highschool baseball park


Does your school or league make this mistake?

base baseline   bad infield grass    bad infield area

This high school that let its field go to pot during the summer and fall so spring was a killer getting it ready to go. Why have every spring be such a challenge when just a little effort throughout the summer and fall – like simply mowing it weekly – makes it so much easier in the spring?

This is where the team developed a ball park checklist to help figure out what to do each spring to bring their ball park up to playing standards.

On the other hand, the field work as well as the baseball play itself helped this young man learn many lessons – team work, discipline, and personal responsibility.

It just so happens that during these last three years of high school, the young man’s dad was actively involved with the booster club. Since money was always tight and there was so much improvement work to do on this new ball park, the dad worked on a grant application with MLB to improve the field. He also learned much about the most effective ways to do any kind of fund raising.

This young man’s team made it to the playoffs each year. In fact his younger brother's team went to the state baseball finals. Such was this young man’s play that he was recruited by a few colleges. In the end he chose a college within a couple hundred miles of home. It was a small college, but seemed to be a good place to start.

However his first college would have challenges way beyond anything he experienced in little league or high school. In part 4 of this series we’ll find out how they boldly did something that astounded the entire community.

Jim Reiner

P.S. Only 1 out of 200 players make it this far. Will yours?
Check here
to find out what you can do to create a winning baseball field.

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