Although our job is coaching, being familiar with baseball maintenance field equipment, is nearly a necessity, because being a volunteer in little league requires you to wear many different hats.
In addition to being requested to help maintain the fields, you may not agree with the manner your division’s field is being maintained, giving you a few options.
Tractor and Drag Are A Must
(1.) Beg for the improvements you think are necessary, but the powers to be don’t.
(2.) Shut up and live with it.
(3.) Do the Job yourself.
It’s the knowledge and ability to do the job yourself I’m going to teach you now.
Regardless of how hard you try, a certain amount of weeds and grass will pop up in the infield over the Fall and Winter months, and the amount of vegetation determines how to deal with it.
(1.) Should it be a clump here and there, using a regular hand hoe will make quick work of the problem.
(2.) Should there be a few patches of weeds, too large to easily attack with a hoe, a garden tiller will solve the problem without digging too deep into the dirt infield.
(3.) Should there be sporadic grasses throughout the infield, you’ll have to resort to bigger equipment. A small tractor pulling a weighted comb or chain link fence drag, will loosen the dirt enough for the grasses to be dragged away with a finishing drag. It may take numerous back and forth, round and round passes across the infield to do a good job, but it will work.
Outfield Cutting Machine - Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment
(4.) Should the infield be totally taken over by weeds or creating a new infield, you will have to use a tractor and plow or disc to totally turn the ground over. This is a last resort because of the work required to level the field after turning it over, but sometimes you have to do what you have to do.
Now that you have the infield grass and weed free, it’s time to put the finishing touches on the infield and to detect any shallow areas in the infield which would hold puddles of water instead of draining.
Using the tractor drag the finish comb in circles around the infield in order to smooth out the surface the box scrapper may have created, this may required numerous passes.
Once you’re satisfied with the overall appearance of the infield, use hand finishing screens to smooth the entire infield to a professional look. You may need to use the weighted roller to flatten any spots which are high.
It’s important you visually check the infield after the first good rain in order to spot any dips or low spots, which were not visible to the naked eye, holding puddles of water. Address these areas and your field should be A-Ok and ready to go.
Foul Lines And Fences - Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment
An established and easy to see foul line, which remains visible the entire season, is important and not that difficult to create, especially if it’s sprucing up an exist sting foul line.
(1.) Driving a screw driver or wood stake into the ground at the back tip of home plate, secure one end of a large roll of string, you want one continuous line, walking, unwind the string until reaching the foul pole, than secure it by tying it taunt. Although the string won’t lay flat on the ground, because the ground rolls, you still want the string laying along the ground as close as possible, not 2’ up in the air.
You’ll want to remove the string before finishing the project, so using a can of cheap white spray paint, spray a path @ 4” wide the entire length of the string, repeat the steps for the other foul line. Be aware of the wind, as a string, repeat the steps for the other foul line. Be aware of the wind, as a strong wind will not only make the job quite difficult, but could blow over-spray onto things you don’t want to paint, like cars.
Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment - Straight And Manicure Foul Line
(2.) After removing the string, use proper precautions for eye and breathing protection, and use an inexpensive insect sprayer to spray a 4” swath of grass and weed killer (the stronger the better, but environmentally safe) along the entire length of the white spray painted foul lines.
After the vegetation spray has killed the grass the entire length of the foul line, apply a healthy amount of lime powder which will provide an established foul line the entire baseball season with minimum maintenance.
Should weeds become an issue again, re-spray the weed killer along the chalk line, as it will kill the weeds but not negatively affect the line.
Should your fields be enclosed with fencing, inspect the chain link fencing for any broken ties or sagging fence. Re-secure any places with pieces of tie wire or electrical tie straps if wire is not available at the time.
Bent or sagging fence poles may require replacing if they can’t be straightened.
The tops of a chain link fence can pose a safety problem for players who may reach over it in an attempt to catch a ball. To protect against injury a protective covering should be installed, which is easy to do by splitting corrugated plastic drain pipe and placing it over the fence top rail, and can be secured by attaching electrical tie straps.
Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment - Installing Lights Are Not A DYI Job
Fences can become a financial asset by selling advertising space. Arrange a financially acceptable agreement with a professional sign making company, you don’t want a crude home-made sign, nor would the advertisers, then sell the signs and space to local businesses for the season.
To fill in a vacant spot install a dimension marker indicating how far the fence is from home plate.
Back Stop and Fan Protection and Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment
Most backstops are fabricated from chain link fence, which can pose a safety hazard for the players if not properly maintained. Should there be a safety concern raised, try to replace the damaged section of fence first, should that prove too costly, install padding around, at least directly behind the home plate area. I’ve seen some places where they attached wood boards to the fence, which solved any safety concern, but ruined any passed ball action, because the ball would bounce right back to the catcher. Home field advantage in spades.
Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment - Advertise On Wind Screens
Depending on the location of the bleachers or fans sitting area, netting may be advisable to install to protect people from screaming foul balls. Additionally, depending on the field location, next to a creek, a screen can save a lot of baseballs which otherwise would have been lost. Baseballs are expensive and you may recoup the cost of the netting quickly.
Finishing Touches and Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment
You have nearly completed the entire revamping of the baseball field as the only remaining items are perhaps the painting of the foul poles or flag pole and insuring the lights are in proper working order.
How do you paint a 50’ pole? Should the pole be hinged, simply remove the keeper and drop the top part, paint and reattach at the hinge. It’s doubtful the foul pole would be removable, as most likely it’s set in concrete.
Should the pole be solid, paint as high as possible, then ask the local fire department to assist by utilizing their extension ladder secured to the fire truck.
Baseball Maintenance Field Equipment - High Work
Another option is to ask a local contractor if he has a lift which could reach the height, but you run into liability problems unless the contractor also performs the painting.
You’d be surprised how helpful these public services can be, but paint as high as possible before they arrive, because if there’s an alarm, you’re out of luck and getting them back could pose a problem. The shortest time to paint the remaining pole, the better chance of getting it accomplished.
Should you experience a lighting problem, such as burned out lights, local electrical contractors will usually replace them labor free as long as you buy the bulbs from them.
If you already have the bulbs, which are not cheap, contact your local utility company, they often have employees who volunteer for such repairs and the company will provide the boom truck.