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Players in older age groups can help maintain the fields by removing trash, sweeping dugouts and dragging and lining the field.
Tools and Equipment
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Cover the bottom of
the tamp with a piece
of burlap. Tie the ends
of the burlap around the
handle of the tamp.
This will reduce the
sticking of moist clays
to the tamp.
How to Make a Nail Drag
Hand saw, power drill, hammer
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Tarps are used to
maintain moisture in
the pitcher’s mound
and home plate
areas. The use of
anytime the field is
not in use.
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Mow no more than
one-third of the
blade of grass at
any given time.
How to Maintain the Base Paths
It is best to maintain as much of the base paths by hand as possible. Use a drag that is narrower than the width of the base paths. Make sure that the drag does not overlap the grass area to prevent the formation of a “lip” or ridge at the edge of the grass.
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Infield Skin – the
areas on a field
composed of clay,
such as base paths,
and home plate
area. These areas
are composed of
infield mix, also
called infield clay.
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If a “lip” begins to
develop along the
turf line, use a
water hose to wash
away the dirt out of
the grass into the
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Environmentally safe methods of weed control, such as pulling weeds by hand, should be consideredwhenever possible.
The turf on the field of play must be protected from weeds, pests and disease. There are recommended chemicals that have all been tested. Many new types of chemicals are entering the market regularly and it is important to determine if the geographical area allows specific types of chemicals to be applied.
The products noted in this section are suggestions only. The type of weed control selected should be determined based on the field conditions and level of weed growth.
For broad leaf weeds such as dandelion, ground ivy, plantain and buckhorn, the types of herbicides used across the industry varies. Pre-emergent herbicides are applied in mid-spring, and post-emergent herbicides are applied in the fall. It is suggested that these products should not be used in hot weather because it may cause discoloration.
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If weed control products with chemicals are used, appropriate measures regarding the use of fields should be established to ensure safety.
Pre-emergent herbicides have been effective for grassy weed control such as crabgrass. Treflan, Daethal, Bandane, and Zytron are pre-emergent herbicides.
For control of different types of cut worms and beetles, turf managers have used products such as Heptachlor, Chlordane, Adrin, and Malathion. Each one is different and the exact material will be recommended by the testing lab chosen as a source to determine fertilization needs. All products should be watered in immediately after application. Follow the manufacturer's label of the product closely.
It is important to remember that some bugs are our "friends" when it comes to growing healthy turf. Earthworms and beetles aerate the soil and create organic matter. Bugs are beneficial in many areas of our world; however, on a professional level baseball field, an infestation of bugs can cause slight undulations in the finish grade.
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Aerate – to
ventilate or expose
to air; as in the soil
or turf; aeration.
There are several types of aeration. The type selected is based on the time of season and the specific issues to be addressed with the soil. The types of aeration include: hollow tine aeration, solid tine, open tine, slicing tines, water jet, and event deep tine. A tine is a spike: the pointed part of the aeration machine that is driven into the soil or turf.
Some aeration machines mechanically drive the tines into the ground. Other aeration machines pull the tines across the field, while the tines penetrate the soil based on the weight of the machine. Most turf managers prefer the mechanical approach. The mechanical machines provide a more even distribution of aeration allowing the depth of the tines to remain constant.
On average, natural soil fields require more aeration than sand-based fields due to compaction issues. The amount of aeration depends on the use of the field. It is recommended to aerate at least 2-3 times per year.
After the field is aerated, it is also recommended to top dress the field. Topdressing is applied with a machine pulled behind a cart, as shown in the photo to the left.
To aerate the field requires a machine to remove small cores of the turf. Aerating machines are sometimes mechanical devices pulled behind a cart or vehicle. The mechanical, self-propelled type of aerating machine is highly preferred.
On Bermuda turf, the field should be verticut to remove the thatch layers. The verticut process uses a power machine with vertical blades to remove the thatch and allows the turf to grow properly. This procedure should be completed at least once per year. On Bluegrass or cool season grasses, the process of verticutting or de-thatching is required; however, all efforts should be made to perform this procedure in the fall. In addition, good judgment must be used to determine the depth of the dethatcher so that the root structure is not removed or damaged in the process. Following the removal of the thatch on Bluegrass turf in the fall, the field should be over-seeded and top dressed.
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The best time to
reconstruct a field
When determining whether torenovate or reconstruct a field,the rule of thumb is as follows: "Reconstruct if the turf has more than 50% weeds with a large proportion of crabgrass or, if in the north, poa trivialis." In other words, renovate the field if it has less than 50% weed infestation. However, this decision also depends on the type of weeds present and location of the field.
If total reconstruction is chosen, fumigation of the field to kill off the weeds properly may be necessary. If only a slight renovation is chosen, plan to aerate, top dress with sand, fertilize, overseed or sod and water adequately to obtain proper growth. Renovation may be necessary in small sections. Be sure to match the seed or sod to existing materials to avoid a "patch" look in the spring when the turf grows in. In most areas, the best time for either renovation or reconstruction is autumn.
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Call the local agricultural or agronomy school to determine the best type of grass for the area.
Selecting the type of turf needed is partially determined by geographic location. Fields located in northern U.S. use cool season turfs such as Bluegrass, fescues and rye grasses. In the southern U.S., Bermuda-type turf and Zoyzias grasses are commonly used. In Europe, Pos type turfs are used. Determining the best grass for the area is as simple calling the local agricultural or agronomic school. Thousands of varieties of grasses are available, but all grasses can be categorized in the groups noted above. No one type of grass is perfect, but there are some excellent grasses adapted to fit nearly all conditions.
All turf will need water, or irrigation, for establishment, growth and repair. If nature does not provide rain in sufficient amounts, the turf manager must provide the water. The ability to have a consistent water supply is critical to field maintenance. Installing an automatic irrigation system should be one of the highest priorities in any field renovation or construction. Watering thoroughly to allow the water to soak deeply is required. Deep watering encourages deep root growth. Frequent shallow watering encourages shallow surface roots, compactions, crabgrass and other weeds.
Some engineered soils can hold up to 1,000 gallons of available water per 1,000 square feet to a depth of 6 inches. Under severe drought conditions, the turf may lose a quarter to a third of an inch of water per day.
It is possible to over water a field. Grassy weeds such as nut sedge may appear. Over watering also limits the oxygen supply to the turf and may cause yellowing which can create turf that is susceptible to disease.
A soil probe should be used to check the depth of moisture saturation. A soil probe can be purchased from local lawn and garden stores. It is a very valuable tool used to pull small cores of soil from your field to check root depth and moisture. If the penetration is slow, aerating may be necessary because the soil is compacted. Frequent use of the aeration equipment will keep the soil open and provide the necessary porosity, or porous quality of the soil.
Turf must have the following nutrients in order to grow and heal after wear and tear: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The formula for the accurate amounts of these products should be determined by having a soil analysis completed by an agronomic agency specializing in the evaluation of athletic turf grasses. All athletic turf should have an application of a complete balanced fertilizer throughout the year.
The chart below provides several types of balanced formulas, depending on local
Nitrogen is a main staple for leaf growth and is supplied in either organic or inorganic form. The organic type is also available in sewage sludge, cottonseed meal and urea form. The inorganic is available as sulphate of ammonium, urea or ammonium nitrate. Sport turf managers use both organic and inorganic blends. This produces a more uniform and steady grass growth.
A general rule of thumb is to provide 1/2 to 3/4pound of nitrogen (actual) per 1,000 square ft. during each month of the growing season. In most sports field environments it is better to feed lightly and frequently. A consistent supply of nitrogen will provide for steady growth and recovery from injury and wear. In contrast, too heavy of feedings may create a tender, even slippery turf that has a lower tolerance for wear. Again, perform soil and tissue tests regularly, approximately 3 to 4 times per year. Bermuda and Zoysia grasses should be fed regularly during the long summer growing season.
Soils in the cool temperature areas, which are northern hemisphere, require different fertilizers than those in the south. The area separating the two hemispheres is called the transition zone. The transition zone is the area located between cool season grasses and warm season grasses. Growing turf in the transition zone is very difficult as neither variety of grass is ideal. Therefore, consult a local agricultural/agronomic school for the appropriate types of fertilizers for the area.
Using a cyclone, walk-behind fertilizer spreader, as shown above, is preferred by most sport turf managers. Determine if the grass is dry before applying a fertilizer. It is considered a good practice to aerate the area before applying fertilizers. Afterwards, the soil should be dragged and watered to insure the chemicals get to the roots. Under normal conditions, ground limestone should only be needed every other year.
Chapter III - Baseball Field Equipment
The following items of equipment are necessary to meet the general requirements of the rules of baseball and the minimum standards used by the International Baseball Federation. Numerous variations of equipment are used in baseball, but this section may assist the understanding of the level of detail needed at the field to host a tournament or higher level of competitive play.
When considering field lighting, remember that the addition of field lighting will result in greater usage of the field and more time and funding required for ongoing field maintenance and renovations. However, if field usage is managed properly, with time allowed during the season to rest the field, field lighting can be a useful addition to the field and the programs that utilize the field. If funding allows, the installation of field lights (or the required electrical infrastructure for the future installation of field lights) during the initial field construction stage is highly recommended.
When planning the installation or replacement of field lighting, it is important to understand that each level of play requires different levels of lighting requirements; therefore, several factors should be considered. These factors include the size of the facility, the durability of the lighting system, the age of the facility, the requirements of the applicable governing body (i.e. NCAA, IBAF, Little League, Inc., etc.), the potential for televised games or international play. It is important that these issues are discussed with a field lighting professional during the planning process.
To demonstrate the differences in lighting guidelines based on level of play, the following chart provides general lighting guidelines for various levels of fields.
Each field will need three bases, three base plugs and a clean-out tool to clear any soils that may enter the base anchors. First, second and third bases are 15 inches square, and cannot be taller than 3 inches.
The Hollywood style base, as shown in the photo on the right, has been accepted as the base to use for baseball throughout the U.S. This style of base is tough, durable, convenient to handle and can be permanently located on the field. There is no slipping of the base, which makes it very safe. The base can be cleaned and painted prior to each event to provide a professional appearance to the field. This type of base does not require spikes or straps. Strap down bases have been ruled as unsafe in some tournaments.
The backstop can be made from chain link fencing and or nets and cables, which is preferred for higher level and competitive fields. The backstop netting is suspend between the dugouts and normally covers an area directly behind home plate that is 80 feet wide and 24 feet high. The backstop should be located 60 feet from home plate on regulation baseball fields and 25-35 feet on youth baseball fields.
Hire an architect to design a backstop system that bests suits the needs of the facility.
Dugouts are used to protect the players from inclement weather and to provide an area where they can rest while the opposing team is in the field. Typical dugout structures should be designed to hold a roster of 20 players plus coaches. This would require a dugout to be at least 60 feet long.
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Dugouts with roofs provide players protection from the sun.
Some dugouts are totally enclosed while some may have a low fence in front of the dugout, which is highly recommended. This will help to protect the players in the dugout from foul balls and thrown bats. Some dugouts are actually sunken into the earth by 2 or 4 steps. This is not required but does provide a more traditional setting. The dugout can be built at field level. The floor of the dugout must be covered with some type of rubber material to provide safe footing to players wearing metal cleats.
In most cases, fencing for the "perimeter of the field of play" is composed of chain link fencing. For higher level of play, the outfield fencing is padded with 3- inch thick foam. This provides the player with a sense of security allowing him or her to pursue difficult plays without the threat of being injured. The average height of outfield fencing is 8 feet; however, 4-6 foot fencing is often used on recreational fields.
Protective fence cap, as shown in the photos on this page, is also installed on chain link fencing on recreational fields for player safety. This product is made of plastic and is attached to the top of the fence.
One of the key components of the outfield is the size and location of the batter's eye. The batter's eye is what the batter sees behind the pitcher. This area must be one consistent, dark color, preferably black, and is normally 60 feet wide and 30 feet high. It is generally a metal structure covered in wind screen material. The wind screen material is made with a solid mesh-like material which allows some air to flow through it.
There are two coaches' boxes on the field: one for third base and one for first base. The coaches' boxes are marked with a white line. It is better to paint this line than use white chalk or lime. The first and third base coaches stand in these areas. The box is located 15 feet from the foul line in foul territory. The box is 20 feet long and the sides of the box are 10 feet long. The box is closed in the back, toward the baseline fencing, as shown in the photo on the left.
Foul poles indicate the foul territory of the outfield field. However, despite the name, a ball hitting a foul pole is considered fair. These poles are normally 30 feet high and have 2 foot wing attached to the fair side of the pole. The proper location of each foul pole is identified by using a transit to find a perfect 90 degree angle with the apex of home plate. Each foul pole will be inside this angle, in the left and right field corners of the field. Poles are located off the field of play and behind the outfield fence. In some cases, the foul poles are a part of the outfield fencing and are padded for player safety.
Warning Track Materials
The warning track can be made from a variety of materials. It can be made of a rubberised material and poured onto asphalt or constructed using red crushed brick material and or shell rock. The goal is to ensure the warning track material is different in color and texture than the playing field surface. It is also important that the warning track material is a stone or aggregate material that is consistent in size and meets certain specifications. For example, stone used in warning track material should be no larger than 3/8ths of an inch, as shown in the photo below.
The depth of the warning track material and the method it is applied will vary depending upon the type of material. On average, approximately 4 inches of material is required over a stable sub base. The warning track is normally 15 feet deep in front of all obstructions; however, consult the leagues and associations that will utilize the field regarding rules and regulations. For instance, the outfield warning track on an Olympic field is 20 feet wide as opposed to a Major League field, which requires a width of 15 feet.
The warning track is normally 15 feet wide and should extend around the entire field to
provide player safety and to reduce wear of turf in front of the dugouts and around the home plate area
during training and pre-game practices. Protective screens are not used during
the game. The following protective screens are recommended:
Pitcher’s Protection Screen
During batting practice, the pitcher is normally throwing from a shortened distance (10-15 feet shorter than regulation, in front of the pitchers mound.) This places the batting practice pitcher in great danger as his reaction time to protect himself is greatly reduced. Therefore, a pitcher’s protection screen is highly recommended.
The size of this screen varies for a regulation screen with 2-inch aluminium tubing designed in an “L" shaped is recommended. The recommended dimensions are 8 feet wide with an overall height of 8 feet with the lower wing 40 inches high. The screen should be covered with a strong baseball batting cagetype netting made from nylon if possible. Metal fencing can be used; however, this type is not preferred due to the damage caused by batted balls.
First Base Screen
First base screens, like the one shown on the left, also should have framework of either 1-inch pipe or 2-inch aluminium tubing. The recommended dimensions are 8 feet wide with a height of 8 feet. Again, the screen should be covered with a strong baseball batting cage-type netting made from nylon if possible. Braces can be welded (attached) to the bottom pipe to help the stability of the screen. Wheels can be attached to allow for easier handling.
Second Base Screen and Shagger Screen
Second base and shagger screens are identical and are normally 12 feet wide and 8 feet tall. Construction is similar to the first base screen. It is used to provide protection to the second baseman and shortstop as they practice double plays. The other screen serves a similar purpose as it is used to protect the “ball shagger,” who is located behind the second base area during practice.
Portable Batting Cages
A portable batting cage structure is normally 10 feet high, 20 feet wide and 20 feet deep. It is igloo-shaped (or arched) and is constructed with 2-inch aluminium tubing covered with foam padding for safety of the players inside the batting cage. The structure is usually built with three wheels. One wheel swivels to direct the cage and the other two are stationary. The cage is rolled and positioned very close to the field turf with no more that 3 inches between the lower rail and the grass; therefore, moving it across the field requires a smooth access on and off the field of play.
Batting tunnels are often used when the field is too wet for practice or to provide additional hitting practice. The average tunnel is 18 feet wide and 80 feet long and 10 feet high. Some batting cages are suspended by cables; although, many batting cage structures are supported with aluminium tubing. If using aluminium tubing, the tubing should be covered with foam padding for safety. The netting on batting tunnels is similar to that used on portable batting cages. The cage netting behind the batter requires a much heavier nylon or a pad to stop the thrown or fouled ball during practice sessions.
Field signs can be helpful to provide rules of the game or use of the field for the players and public. Field signs can also be used as a source of revenue to sell to sponsors and local businesses.
Suggested field signs may include:
Chapter IV –
The maintenance of softball fields is very similar to baseball fields. Although similar, there are several issues regarding the maintenance procedures of infields, mounds and plate areas that vary.
Diagrams of Field Layouts (Diagrams from www.markersinc.com)
Regulation Baseball Field
Youth Baseball Fields
Baseball Pitchers Mound
Annual Field Maintenance Checklist
The Baseball Tomorrow Fund is designed to promote the growth of youth baseball and softball throughout the world by awarding grants to support field renovation and construction projects, equipment and uniform purchases, coaches training material and other selected program expenses. Since its formation by Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association in 1999, the Baseball Tomorrow Fund has awarded over 525 grants totaling more than $19 million to non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. Approximately 220,000 youth players have benefited from programs and facilities supported by the fund. The Baseball Tomorrow Fund receives approximately 500 applications each year and awards grants on a quarterly basis after a selective review process. For more information, visit www.baseballtomorrowfund.com.