Baseball Field History

A diamond is more than a girl's best friend. Without it, there would be no baseball. Building a baseball diamond is a big deal, one that requires a lot of preparation. While these answers to frequently asked questions about baseball fields are far from complete, they should give you some idea of the things you'll be thinking about before you build the diamond of your dreams

Who invented the baseball diamond?

In 1945 at the age of 25, "father of baseball" Alexander Cartwright, Jr. of the New York Knickerbockers drew up plans for the original baseball field. His design included the diamond-shaped infield, and foul area

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Why is the baseball field called a 'diamond'?

To the discriminating viewer, the baseball field is not really a diamond at all, but a square turned 45 degrees. Or, if you really want to get technical, a rhombus. From the umpire's vantage 'point' directly behind home plate, the field does in fact appear to be a geometric diamond. However, if you were to compare baseball's quarter-circle 'diamond' to the one that sits in a wedding ring, viewed from the side, the fine-cut gem resembles the shape of a baseball field. It's a matter of perspective. And after all, 'baseball square' just doesn't sound quite right

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What are the dimensions of a baseball field?

Outfield Variable
Infield Square, 90 feet each side
Home base to outfield fence Minimum 250 feet
Foul lines Minimum 320 feet
Home base to center field Minimum 400 feet
Distance between bases 90 feet (60 feet for little leagues)
Distance from home to pitcher 60 feet 6 inches (46 inches little league)
Height of pitchers mound 10 1/2 inches above level of home plate
Diameter of pitchers mound base 18 feet
Diameter of pitchers mound top 5 feet
Distance from home to second base 127 feet, 3 3/8 inches (84' 10 1/4 inches little league)
Home base circle 26 feet in diameter
Dugout 15 feet
* Direction of baseball diamond East-Northeast
* Line running from home base through pitchers plate to second base

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What are some differences between a baseball field and a softball field?

The two most obvious differences are dimensions and features. There are also differences between fastpitch and slowpitch fields

Dimensions - The baseball diamond is larger than the softball diamond. A few facts:

  • Distance to the outfield fence for both baseball and softball is variable, however baseball fields must be at least 250 feet from home base to the outfield fence
  • Softball's recommended distance from home plate to the fence is 200 feet
  • Distance between baseball bases is 90 feet; 60 feet between fastpitch softball bases
  • In baseball, home plate to pitchers mound measures 60 feet 6 inches
  • For softball, home plate to pitcher measures 46 feet for men, 43 feet for women

Features - Unlike baseball, which uses a raised pitching mound, softball pitchers stand on a flat circular area. Softball uses a double first base, whereas baseball, except for the little leagues, uses a single first base

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What baseball field equipment do I need?

Aside from the basics: bases, bats, and gloves, there's a lot of field equipment that goes into every baseball game. They include:

  • Plates and bases
  • Pitching rubber
  • Pitching mats
  • Batting cage
  • Foul poles
  • Fencing
  • Field lighting
  • Sports carts and caddies
  • Batters box template
  • Protective screens
  • Field signs
  • Coaches boxes
  • Dugouts

Baseball field maintenance equipment

  • Field and base covers
  • Tamps
  • Rakes and brooms
  • Drag mats
  • Line machines
  • Fertilizers
  • Hoes
  • Mowers
  • Rollers
  • Hoses and irrigation equipment
  • Athletic field markers

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Tips for building a baseball field

Building a baseball field takes a lot of preparation, time and resources. Here are a few tips to help you design your field of dreams

Establish your budget
According to Troy Frazier of fraziersfieldrepair.com, your first step in building a baseball field is to determine your budget. Building a baseball field can cost anywhere from thousands to millions of dollars, depending on the type and quality of the field. Once you've established your price range, you'll be able to know where and to what extent you can build

Should I hire a field specialist?
That will depend on your budget, and what you plan to use your ball field for. Your community may be teaming with generous people raring to devote their time and talents to building a ballpark, or helping to maintain it. Or you may choose to consult an athletic field specialist about such things as finding the right soil mixes to use on the infield, and field maintenance. You may opt to hire a company to cover every phase of development to ensure the entire job is done correctly and professionally

Determine a location
Figuring out where your ball field is going to be can be a tedious process, and take lots of planning. You'll need know how much space you'll need, zoning availability, land and soil conditions, proximity to trees, roads and houses, access to irrigation, and other more

Land and soil conditions
Is the land conducive for leveling or supporting structures? Terrain with high rock or sand density could be a challenge to building a ball field. What are the soil conditions? You may need to grow grass and plant trees around the perimeter to break the wind. It takes about three growing seasons for new grass to be firmly established

Irrigation
Does the area have access to irrigation for maintaining the field? Moisture management is an important consideration. It's tough to play baseball on an infield that is too dry or wet, or maintain a field that doesn't have the right drainage and irrigation

Create a landscape plan
Once you've established a home for your ball park, it's time to design your field. No two baseball fields are exactly alike. Whether it's going in your backyard, near the school, or at a park, it's important your field be designed correctly and smartly. When developing a landscape plan you'll need to consider angle of the field, dimensions, location of home plate, sun and wind direction, fencing, parking, seating, press box, peripheral landscape, and more

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Are there rules for designing a baseball field?

Yes. But every league has its own unique requirements, and every stadium and ballpark has a little different layout. Local and national leagues generally follow MLB rules regarding the layout of the field, but are free to modify them to meet their own needs. For instance, although rules suggest the center line run East-Northeast, all playing fields should consider sun and wind direction when designing the field in order to minimize glare and weather factors

"It is desirable that the line from home base through the pitchers plate to second base shall run East Northeast." (MLB)

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How do I build a pitchers mound?

There are various ways to build a pitchers mound, depending on your budget. You can build one at little to no cost with materials on hand, or you can build a permanent mound made with quality mixes. Building a clay mound can cost more, but well worth it over the long run

Getting started
Make sure you know the dimensional requirements for your pitchers mound. Miscalculation of height is probably the number one mistake builders make when building a pitchers mound. Knowing the dimensions will allow you to plan your materials, budget, and method of building

Materials
Once you've determined your budget, decide how and with what materials you want to build. Sturdy, low-cost mounds can be made out of wood scraps and old crates, but may have to be adjusted later. If you're looking to build a solid, high-end mound you'll want the best materials and labor money can buy. Many permanent mounds are built using bricks or a couple different clay mixes. If you use a mix, it should consist of 40 percent sand, 40 percent clay, 20 percent silt. Landing field material should contain less clay and more sand, and be moist and firm but not too hard

Building
Build your mound from the base up, keeping in mind the slope. A good pitching mound requires a lot of detail work to obtain the correct slope and dimensions. Please consult a professional. If you're a do-it-yourself visual learner, there are lots of great video tutorials and how-to resources available online

Dimensions of a pitchers mound

Height of pitchers mound 10 1/2 inches above level of home plate
Diameter of pitchers mound base 18 feet
Diameter of pitchers mound top 5 feet
Pitchers rubber 24 inches x 6 inches

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What's the difference between a recreational baseball field and a professional baseball field?

While infield dimensions are generally the same, size of the overall field and quality are what set a major league baseball stadium apart from a school or recreation baseball field

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Tips for maintaining your baseball field

Just as you keep yourself in top shape to play your personal best, keeping your baseball field in the best condition allows your athletes to make the most of each and every game. Regular proper maintenance of your baseball field also lessens the chances of player injury that can occur by stepping in potholes, or slipping on a surface that is either too moist or too dry and loose. By performing a few routine tasks before and after every game, you'll keep your baseball field in fine shape

Common problems due to normal play or irregular maintenance can include:

  • Pot holes and puddling
  • Uneven surfaces
  • Infield being too loose or slippery
  • Infield becoming too packed and hard

There are many facets to baseball field maintenance. According to a general guide published by the Baseball Tomorrow Fund, moisture management is one of the most important. Surfaces tend to get either too loose and dusty, or too packed and hard, making play difficult and even dangerous. The guide suggests using a drag mat and/or field rake before and after every game to ensure the field is level, and in good condition

Tips for maintaining your infield

  • Remove debris after every game
  • With a hose, lightly and evenly moisten the infield dirt
  • Slowly run a nail drag over the entire infield, changing directions to prevent build-up
  • Fill in large holes with a spike drag
  • Use a steam roller after filling in major indentations

For more information go to: Baseball Field Maintenance

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Conclusion

Hopefully this information has provided you with a better understanding of the baseball field, and the planning and preparation that goes into building one. By now you have a little more insight into why it's important to maintain the field, and some practical tips on doing it. But of course, the most important part of the baseball field is you! So play hard, play well, get out and have fun on your field this baseball season!

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