Thursday, March 28, 2013

How To Help Maintain Our Fields

The following is a message from our grounds crew to our coaches. Please read it carefully and share it with anyone that uses our fields......

There are two general categories of field maintenance: prevention and repair. Coaching staffs should be concerned with the prevention of damage to the fields. The maintenance staff should handle the repair of damage. Obviously the prevention of damage is key to maintaining a field in prime condition, and it is relatively simple if the proper steps are embraced by everyone. Without prevention, there is repair, which is time consuming, sometimes expensive and occasionally an inconvenience to all - an example of which was the unavailability of Founders Field for several weeks.

The following steps should be taken in order to prevent damage to our fields and avoid costly repairs:

Mats - Green artificial turf mats are located at each field to protect the grass and dirt areas from damage caused by repetitive motion during practices. Worn grassy areas take time to grow back. Holes dug into the batter's boxes or pitcher's mound create avoidable busy-work for the grounds crew. Coaches should always make sure to: use mats in the batter's boxes during batting practice; pitch batting practice from a mat; hit infield/outfield defensive practice from a mat - if you hit from the sideline, move a mat to the sideline; return mats to the batter's boxes and pitcher's mound at the end of practices and games - get the players involved and make it a routine.

Wet Fields - Never practice on a field that is wet and soft. It takes a considerable amount of time to repair the craters caused by players using a soft infield or base paths. The damage caused directly affects the quality of the playing surface for your infielders. It is also a safety issue - a player can get hurt by a bad hop or by slipping on a wet field. Get approval before using any rapid-dry or soil conditioner. The fields shouldn't have too much of those products. And they are expensive. When using them, be careful to avoid contact with the grass. They are for dirt areas only.

Pre-game / Post-game - The home team is responsible for raking and lining the field before each game. But it is often a group effort by both teams. Use paint on the grass and chalk on the dirt. Chalk will damage the grass. Use the string and batter's box frame to ensure straight lines. If you are unsure about how to properly line the field, ask someone for help. There are also specific guidelines in the Little League Rulebook. After the last game of the day, be sure to return the mats to the batter's boxes and pitcher's mound. It would also help to rake dirt back up onto the mound and away from the infield "lips." And please remind your team's parents to throw away any trash from the bleacher areas at the end of each game.

Debris - Be on the lookout for rocks, gum balls, weeds, leaves, trash or other debris when your team is using a field. It only takes a couple of minutes for your entire team to do a quick rock or gum ball collection during practice. It takes a single grounds crew member much longer. It would be good for the kids to take part in helping to maintain our fields, and this is an easy way for them to pitch in.

Digging - Be on the lookout for any player that is digging at the ground with his feet. It is often done by a pitcher trying to "fix" the mound, a batter trying to "get his feet set" or a bored outfielder that can't stand still. It may seem like a harmless baseball habit, but it causes damage to our fields. Please speak up to the player when you see this happen.

Thanks for reading this message and getting on board with the above guidelines. We are all volunteers and must help to keep our great ballpark in great condition. We love our league and the work we do at the park. But it needs to be a team effort, with the coaches, players and parents taking part. The MPTLL maintenance staff truly appreciates your support.

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