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Field Guide

What You Need To Check On Your Baseball Field Before Every Game

April 23, 2015

Before the umpire shouts, “Play ball!” it’s a field manager’s job to make sure the baseball field is in the best possible playing condition for the scheduled game time. This goes far beyond the aesthetics of repainting the foul lines and the hitter’s circles. Proper pre-game baseball field maintenance is a detailed process that involves making sure the field is truly safe for play so that athletes are protected when they’re putting it all on the line.

For field managers, it’s important to get into a solid routine with pre-game field maintenance so that it becomes second nature. The checklist that follows will help ensure that all important areas of baseball field care are addressed before each and every game:

  • Start pre-game maintenance the day before the game — Proper pre-game maintenance actually begins the day before the game. The day prior to a scheduled game, the main focus should be getting the field in the best possible playing condition. This will give you plenty of time to take care of the tasks on this checklist so that nothing gets overlooked or completed haphazardly in a last minute rush.
  • Begin the process by mowing the field — Start your pre-game field maintenance by removing the tarps and mowing the field to get the grass to its proper height. In general, the grass on a baseball field should be between 1- to 2 ½-inches long. The grass should never grow beyond the point that you would have to cut more than 1/3 of the leaf tissue in order to make it the recommended length as this can damage the tissue. That’s why mowing before each game is so important as it keeps the grass from growing too high.
  • Check for any holes or ruts — Over time, baseball fields can develop holes, ruts, cracks and other hazards that are unsafe for play. The day before the game, walk the field and examine it carefully for signs of wear and tear. If you notice any such issues, make sure to take care of them immediately to create a smooth, safe playing field.
  • Water the field — Late the night before or early in the morning of the game, give the field a good heavy watering. This will help ensure that the playing surface has the right amount of moisture come game time, giving the water a chance to really soak into the surface before evaporating in time for the game. Proper watering promotes healthy turf growth and allows the infield mix to compact properly, keeping it from becoming too dry, hard, brittle and cracked. It also helps create good, safe footing for the players. You may still need to lightly water the infield area before the game as well.
  • Check all field maintenance equipment — It’s important to make sure that all of your essential field maintenance equipment is in proper working condition before each game. Check the condition of your rakes, make sure your field maintenance vehicles are fully gassed, verify that there’s chalk in the chalk box, and check to ensure your tarps are in good condition, especially if there’s a possibility of rain.

The importance of pre-game field maintenance cannot be minimized. Practice your routine, and get it down like clockwork, so you can improve each time and create the safest possible playing conditions for the athletes.

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