General: To prepare the field for a game, arrive approximately one hour before game time. It takes at least 30 minutes to complete preparations, and each team is entitled to 10 minutes warm-up time before the start of the game. One hour allows only 10 minutes for extra work that may be required. The home team playing the first game of the day on a field should do a thorough job, as the prep time for following games may be abbreviated. If it has been raining, plan to arrive even earlier as the field will require more work to make it playable.
This is at least a two-person job.
Be sure to re-lock the sheds before the game begins to protect equipment, to keep locks from getting misplaced, and to prevent small children from injury in the shed or with the gear, particularly when everyone's attention is on the game.
Baseball Dirt: This is soil mix composed of cinders and clay. It needs to be moist to be firm. If an area is too wet you should not add sand or any other substance to the field in an attempt to dry out a specific area. Instead, rake drier "mix" from another and mix the two together.
How to Prep the Field:
- Locate the base pegs. They should be capped with "mushrooms" if they aren't you'll need to dig them out with the "dig out" tool in the shed. Hint: Once you have located either lst or 3rd base use the chalk line to measure the distance to the back of home plate. Swing the line to the opposite field should give the other base. Keep the distance mark on the chalk line and scribe and arc from 1st base to 2nd. Repeat the process from 3rd base. The intersection of these arcs is the location of 2nd base.
- Repairs: Use the large aluminum Infield Rake to fill in and smooth out any ruts or holes (usually along the base lines near the bases and in the batter's box). When players slide, dirt is pushed out from in front of base to behind the base. Pull dirt from behind bases to fill in low spots in front. This should also be one after the last game or practice of the day so the dirt has some time to settle. It is important to water and repair the areas to be repaired first so they can dry out somewhat before game time. The mounds may need repair; BUT DO NOT WATER THE MOUND. Mounds are made of special clay and do not require moistening before each game. Wet mound clay can be very slippery. The mound should also be repaired after the last game or practice of the day.
- Water: There are water faucets located at every field. Water the infield thoroughly if the surface is dry. This keeps the dust down. Saturate the surface until the material turns red. Completely soak locations needing repair and the area around home plate. The infield should be damp enough to hold the dust down. Don't worry about puddles or over-watering, particularly around the bases, as this material holds a lot of water. Again, avoid getting the mound wet as the special clay can be very slippery. Return the hose to the shed.
- Drag: The "drag" (the large screen with the rope attached) is located near the fence on each infield. Drag around the mound in a spiral pattern outward until all the playing area is covered. End next to the fence at First or Third base, roll up the drag and leave it next to the fence.
- Fill the Chalk Hopper: If you fill it at the shed it will be a little harder to roll; but any chalk spills will be away from the infield. When about half-empty to near-empty, the chalk in the hopper will form a "void" from the action of the impeller which lets the chalk pour out unevenly. Stir the chalk down into the void to avoid this. Always clean up any chalk mess with a rake or shovel. Do not reuse this contaminated chalk. NOTE: If the trap door at the bottom of the machine gets jammed with paper, clay or damp chalk, the door will not close fully. Clean this out before attempting to spread chalk.
- Locate Batter's Box: The batter's box outline is made by using the PVC pipe rectangular template. Lay it on the ground next to the plate and use the projecting pieces of the form and home plate for position. The side of the box should be parallel to the side of the plate. Step on the top of the PVC box or scratch a line using the PVC template to leave an impression in the dirt. Flip it over to the other side of the plate and repeat. These two boxes are your guidelines for chalking. Make these two impressions before chalking the baselines. This gives the starting point for the baselines. Locate Baselines: Next run a string from the pointed corner of home plate (some fields have hooks on the backstop for this purpose) to the edge of the grass, running it through a point approximately 6 inches to the outside of the first and third base mushrooms. (A mushroom is the cover placed in the metal base peg anchor to keep the dirt out.) Or pull the mushroom and place a base in the hole. The outside edge of the chalk line should be just under the edge of the base since the base is located totally in fair territory. For accuracy the string should be 1 inch inside the edge of both home plate and each base. (The chalk stripe is two inches wide.) Apply chalk lines: Start placing chalk on the string at the point where the string crosses the batter's box. There should not be chalk inside the batter's box when you are done. Align the front of the chalk machine on the string as you walk slowly toward the outfield. Sight far along the string. This gives a straighter line. Repeat for the other baseline.
- Base Installation: Install the bases in the peg anchors beneath the mushrooms. Place the mushrooms along the fence so they can be easily located to replace at the end of the day. If the base peg anchors are full of dirt there is a "dig out" tool like a spatula with a wooden handle in each shed to scoop out dirt.
The home team manager for the last game of the day is responsible for pulling all the bases, installing the mushrooms, putting the bases away, and locking up the shed. If you are unsure if it's your turn and no one from the next game has arrived before you, please put everthing away. Bases left in the peg anchors overnight will rust and stick.