Maintenance & Game Prep for all SCAA Baseball fields
Everyday Minimum post-game/post-practice Maintenance
Proper clean-up and maintenance after field usage is necessary to keep high traffic areas of the field smooth and level. This is ESSENTIAL to avoid unsafe condititions that can cause "bad-hops" or rolled ankles in a low spot. It also allows the field to quickly drain or absorb rainfall so that play can take place within just a few hours. Rainouts due to a soaked field or pooled standing water often mean that field has not been properly maintained.
This maintenance is the responsibility of the team who has the last practice or game for each day. In a rotation, have 5 or 6 players perform this duty. It only takes 5-10 minutes! PLEASE be sure players & parent volunteers are taught & follow these guidelines:
- Remove the bases & put the plugs in. This should be done before raking, brooming, or dragging so that the area around the base gets leveled to the rest of the infield. Store bases/plugs in closest dugout (fields 3 & 10) or shed (fields 4 & 8).
- Fill in holes and low spots using rake: Home plate, pitchers mound, first, second and third.
- Any torn up spots or high/low areas in the infield dirt.
- The pitchers mound.
- Batters box area and catchers box.
- Broom or drag screen: All dirt areas except mound and home-1st and 3rd-home baselines. These areas are too narrow for the broom/drag screen on most fields and must be raked instead to avoid lip buildup.
- Cover the mound with the tarp (if available). Tarp should be stored by hanging gently over the fence behind 3rd base bullpen. The tarp helps retain moisture in the soil for a better pitching surface that is not dry and hard.
**NEVER rake towards or parallel to any grass edge. Only rake AWAY from grass. This prevents a “lip” from forming due to buildup of dirt along the grass edge.
**NEVER pull a broom or drag screen closer than 6 inches to grass edge, or towards a grass edge. Always pick the broom/drag up away from the edge when finishing.
**NEVER drag the screen closer than 1 foot to grass edge, or towards a grass edge. Always drop or pick up the screen away from the edge when starting or finishing and shake out dirt several feet away from grass, or ideally over a low spot to help build it back up.
**NEVER drag the screen over any grass or across any grass/dirt seam. This creates a lip of dirt buildup over time. Always carry the screen over the seam onto and off of the infield dirt.
**NEVER attempt to drag the mound area. It is too small of an area to drag without going across a seam/edge.
**ALWAYS rake the mound inward, from the grass edge uphill towards top of the mound.
**AVOID using too much Turface. ALWAYS remove as much standing water as possible using the "sponges", or spread water to dry areas, before using Turface. Too much Turface over time leads to loose surfaces which reduce player traction, and also contribute to dusty conditions. The Turface in the sheds is actually designed for dirt conditioning, not for water absorption. "Quick Dry" can be used to dry out wet spots on the playing field before a game. Please do not use Turface or quick dry in dugouts or other non-playing field areas.
**DO NOT ALLOW PLAYERS to “dig-in” at the pitchers rubber. This is unnecessary and creates more work to repair the hole. Pitchers should become accustomed to pitching from a nearly flush surface in front of the rubber. Break this player habit early.
Prepping the Field for a Game
If the field is maintained as outlined above, the home team for each weekday game will only have to put down the base lines and the batters box.
- All equipment needed for prepping Majors/Minors is in the shed behind field #4, and Machine Pitch in the shed behind softball field #9.
- There are large spikes in the ground for attaching the foul-line guide string both at the backstop behind home plate (look for white spot at bottom of fencing) and at the foul poles. String should just touch the outside edge of home plate and the outside edges of 1st & 3rd bases when aligned properly.
- Infield foul lines should be chalked before installing bases. NEVER use chalk in the outfield grass. Outfield foul lines should be painted, and should be done on Saturdays before the first game. Paint should last through the week.
- The string is the actual foul line, and since the chalked/painted line will be considered in fair territory, all chalk/paint should be marked on the inside (fair side) of the string line, NOT directly over (straddling) the string. Pay attention to different guide markings on different chalk & paint machines (some identify the center of the line, others indicate the edges of the line).
- All lines are 2” wide (using only one open flap under chalk machine), except the Jr/Sr League Field #8 are 4” wide (both flaps open). Chalk should be used in infield dirt areas only. Paint should be used in all grass areas.
- For the batters box frame, mark the OUTSIDE of the frame with a screwdriver/stick/etc, and always chalk INSIDE the mark. Just like a foul line is considered to be in fair territory, the batters box chalk line is considered inside the batter box.
- Do NOT mark any on-deck areas for any fields, except Jr/Sr League Field #8. Little League rule 1.08 specifies no on-deck batters permitted outside dugout for Majors and below.
- If desired, paint the home plate, pitchers rubber, and bases. Typically, this is only done on special occasions such as on opening day or for playoff games to reduce expenses. Paint the bases in the dirt and then sweep the dirt with your foot to erase the overspray. Do not paint them leaning against a fence or in the grass. This leaves ugly permanent marks on the fence!
- Turn on the scoreboard and designate a parent from the home team side to operate.
- If a team wants to drag the field using the lawn tractor, please talk with Chris Rufert before dragging for the first time. The drag is NOT to be pulled onto the grass, but lifted onto the grass, leaving all dirt on the field. Do not drag over the corners of the grass OR drag while bases are in place. DO NOT simply drag back and forth from 1st to 3rd (like the Zamboni on hockey ice), there are specific patterns the tractor should follow to avoid creating high/low spots, and Chris can help you with that.
Check out these videos for more details:
Baseball Infield Skin And Lip Maintenance
Baseball Field Mound And Home Plate Maintenance
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt 1) - Fixing holes in mound/plate areas
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt. 2) - Removing the "lip"
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt. 3) - Lining the field
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt. 4) - Maintaining the "skin" area
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt. 5) - Recovering from rain
Little League Groundskeeping (Pt. 6) – Mowing