On A Smaller Scale

The city of Boise has incorporated a special setup in the batter’s box to prevent large holes–staff has installed a barrier about 6 to 8 inches deep made of clay brick and then covered with sand, dirt and Turface. The barrier is harder for batters digging into the box to break down. Steel cleats have also been banned because of damage to fields.

Maintenance In The Off-Season

While many departments use the off-season to inspect fields and make repairs to fences, bleachers and lights, routine dragging and leveling are still done during this time to keep fields soft and playable.

“If you don’t use the fields, they become hard. Hard fields are unsafe,” Kilian says. Even in the off-season the fields are maintained on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

“We take pride in the safety of our fields,” Kilian says. “With over 500 teams coming through between summer and fall, it’s important to keep maintenance and safety up.”

In Raleigh, the staff does field assessments in December. Some things they consider include low places in the infield, patches of bare grass and fencing issues. Light tests are done along with fence patching. The whole assessment process takes about a month. In mid-January, repairs begin so that the fields are in playing condition.

Equipment Maintenance

The city of Raleigh provides youth softball and baseball leagues with basic equipment, such as batting helmets and bats. The catcher’s gear includes helmets, face masks, throat masks, chest protectors and shin guards. Maintenance of the equipment helps keep the children safe and also reduces costs for taxpayers. The city has a warehouse manager in charge of maintaining inventory of all equipment and examining each piece to make sure it is in playing condition.

Coaches return the team equipment each year, and it is checked in the fall to be ready for the next season. Helmets are checked for ear pads and cracks. Bats are examined for dents and rivets. Balls are replaced every year, and old game balls are used the following year for practice balls.

“The life of a baseball or softball isn’t very long,” Bailey says. “Whether it’s from weather or usage, they tend not to last long.”

Bailey stresses the importance of buying for longevity, not flash. “We are very conscious of safety along with taxpayer money,” she says. The department only purchases enough equipment to cover those needing replaced and a small amount to cover any increase in participation from the previous year.

Hire Knowledgeable Staff

“It’s important to hire people with knowledge of baseball and softball. They will treat the fields like a player would want them. We want our staff to ask, ‘Would you want to play on them?’” says Kilian.

Keep Up On Turf Maintenance

New methods of turf maintenance are always in development. What is the best tip on maintaining fields? “Continue to keep reading about fields, and keep up on turf maintenance,” Bailey advises. “When you play over 600 hours on the fields a year, you need to know the best ways to keep them in top condition.”

Heather Reichle is a freelance writer living in Columbus, Ohio. She can be reached via e-mail at HReichle28@yahoo.com

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  1. Tending To Turf
  2. Spring Training For Fields
  3. Major League Maintenance
  4. Dirty Work
  5. Get A Game Plan

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