Ballfield or baseball diamond is not that easy to maintain. If you are a true baseball lover, you must know every detail about this game, like pitching, batting, etc.
Then you also should know about the baseball field. For example, to maintain a baseball field, the ground manager waters the baseball field. But why do they do so?
The ground manager waters the baseball ground to ensure that the ground is completely ready for the match. Daily watering helps keep the infield dirt a bit softer and eliminates dust clouds while sliding. It also helps the baseball ground to get sufficient moisture so that the players can hit, pitch, run, and field perfectly.
Why Do They Wet the Baseball Field?
The baseball field manager wet the baseball field to soften, so that ground balls play a certain way. However, this way varies according to the various fielding positions of the players.
Some baseball players prefer it a bit hard so that the balls can bounce higher. It also helps the ball to reach them a bit faster.
Thus they can get a better chance to make a challenging throw to turn the double play where each second matters.
On the other hand, some players prefer a softer fielding position, and they tend to have the fielding strength of throwing the ball better. So how much the baseball field will be wet depends on the infielder initiating that particular day. Therefore the MLB head groundskeeper must be aware of the player’s preferences.
Another reason for watering a baseball field is to slow down the speedy opposing teams. It is done when the host team doesn’t have the same speed as the opposing team.
If you search through baseball history, you may get such instances.
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Dust reduction is also a significant reason behind watering the baseball field. MLB infield mix is one of the best quality, and it receives so much attention when there is no one around.
The ground manager can’t wet the field before the match, and there shouldn’t be dust blowing around.
Therefore the baseball ground crews water the field for a particular time. Watering the area helps keep the loose top surface in a proper place so that it doesn’t shift around or spill into the grass.
However, getting off the infield mix from the grass is pretty hectic.
Why is Water Essential for the Field?
Water has several essential roles within plants. If the water content in the tissue is less than 60%, the turf will be weakened, and it even can die.
Water is crucial for growth, but it also helps to condition the turf. Thus the baseball turf can handle and recover from stress caused by heavy use and harsh environmental conditions.
In many areas, there is not sufficient rainfall. In such places, supplemental water is vital to keep the turf healthy to prevent the soil from drying out.
Sunlight, temperature, humidity, rain, everything is necessary to keep the baseball field in proper condition.However, the ground manager must know the soil texture to use the precise amount of water on the baseball field.
For example, sandy solid needs frequent water as it has poor water holding capacity. The soil quality differs from field to field.
To apply the proper amount of water on the field, the groundskeeper should know how much moisture the field has lost, and he must monitor the field condition when required.
The field manager also can use a moisture sensor or a soil probe to check the soil. It also lets them check the wetness to a depth just below the maximum of the root system that is around 4 to 6 inches.
Also, the turf becomes dull or bluish-grey and leaves curl when it goes through severe moisture stress.
Also, when the turf gets footprints on it, and the prints don’t bounce back, it is time to wet the field.
If the field doesn’t get water, the turf will get damaged in such conditions.
How Much Water Does the Field Require?
The turf should get almost 1” to 2” of water every week during the growing season. The groundskeeper also can use a rain gauge to monitor the rainfall.
If rainfall provides ½” of water, you have to apply the extra amount of water according to the grass, soil type, and evapotranspiration amount.
Field managers use ET to determine the additional watering requirements. ET combines water lost from the soil surface and water used through the transpiration procedure.
How Often Should the Field Get Water?
Once or twice a week, the field should get deep and infrequent watering. If the solid has more sand, it needs more frequent watering.
Also, during the establishment of the turf, the groundskeeper needs to water the field more frequently.
At this time, it is a bit difficult to keep the seedbed moist to ensure germination. It may even require daily watering several times a day.
Caution to Follow While Watering the Baseball Field
It is recommended not to apply more water than the absorption capacity of the soil. Water that can’t penetrate the soil will be lost through evaporation.
Also, there will be an environmental risk to water quality when the evaporated surface water includes soil particles.
When several water bodies like estuaries, slow-moving streams, lakes get water with soil particles, several plants grow. Overall it affects the ecosystem.
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How to Maintain a Baseball Field?
It is not very easy to maintain a baseball field. The entire maintaining procedure of a baseball field goes through several steps that include;
First, the groundskeeper must do a soil test to determine what the field needs. By doing a soil test, they can understand the soil quality also. Then the field manager can apply the required nutrients or things to make the ground perfect.
The next step is to grade the infield dirt so that water can run off instead of getting puddles. It provides the players with more access to the field. Proper grades don’t cause puddles to form and prepare the field more appropriately.
After grading, the groundskeeper needs to rake and drag after every use to keep the field safe for playing. It also helps to maintain a proper grade. Field managers can use a rake along the grass edges, and they don’t have to drag too closely and endanger the infield mix creating a lip along with the transition areas. Then the groundskeeper has to rake the home plate and pitcher’s spot.
The next step is to pay attention to things off the field. You need to look attentively at the fences and dugouts in this step. Also, you have to check the walkways, bleachers, restrooms, and storage facilities to prevent any unsafe surroundings.
During mowing, make sure not to remove more than ⅓ of the growth. If you remove more than this, it weakens the plant. Try to schedule regular mowing to maintain the required height of cut. Sometimes, you may have to do more than one mowing in a week.
While watering, make sure not to overwater the baseball ground. Otherwise, the plants will be weak. Therefore less frequent watering is required to maintain the proper moisture of this field.
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When the baseball field becomes too wet, it becomes risky to the runner with the slippery mud surface. Slippery mud prevents proper sliding into the base for safety.
Mud gets coated onto the ball when it hits the dirt area. Thus the player can’t handle and throw the ball properly. Therefore, the field keeper traps the infield to protect it from excess water.
Groundskeepers use several tricks to determine the watering needs of the fields. For example, they monitor whether the ground gets footprints in the summer season.
If the ground gets footprints, the field needs water immediately. Also, they do fertilize for ground care.
Here, the groundskeeper uses both liquid and powder fertilizer on the ground. After applying fertilizer, they do mowing. During mowing, the groundskeeper cut only the top third of the blade. So, this is the entire watering process on the baseball fields.
The average professional baseball field uses approximately 100,000 square feet of turf, and such turf requires about 65,500* gallons of water every week. This amount of water is equivalent to the amount of water of 89 homes that they use at the same amount of time.
Usually, you should water the baseball field early in the morning when the wind remains calm. It gives the turf blades adequate time to dry properly before the field use.
If you water the turf in the late afternoon or early evening, the turf can’t dry properly. Also, it allows disease organisms to penetrate the turf tissue. Therefore, you must finish watering the field at least 24 to 48 hours before a match.
Watering the baseball field immediately after the match helps relieve stress on the grass. The groundskeeper must check the weekly weather report to schedule the watering accordingly.
Watering should be done twice or thrice every week during the warm seasons. However, sometimes daily watering promotes fungus growth.