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Book Review: Baseball and Softball Fields

Title: Baseball and Softball Fields
Design, Construction, Renovation and Maintenance
Authors: Jim Puhalla, Jeff Krans, Mike Goatley
Publisher: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New Jersey

It wasn't that long ago that the secondary schools fielded no organized female sport teams. Today, it's great to see the increasing participation of girls and women in sports. It's particularly evident in soccer and softball, with tens of thousands of new softball diamonds constructed to meet this need.

Creating these "Fields of Dreams" has become more demanding, as construction and maintenance costs have increased.

This book focuses on practical information needed to maintain and manage baseball and softball diamonds, but is also a resource for those sometimes involved in constructing a diamond or reconstructing one. It is not the comprehensive, scientific, technical reference of the authors' first collaborative effort, Sports Fields: A Manual for Design, Construction and Maintenance.

The authors consider the critical design elements, review the problem areas most often encountered (and provide solutions), describe construction and renovation, and give practical guidelines for maintenance programs. Among the common design errors is an incorrect field contour. The authors explain that sports field contours are expressed as percentage of a slope. The optimal slope for baseball/softball fields is between 0.5 and 1.75.

"We believe that following the principles outlined on these pages will result in fields that are safe, usable in a wide variety of conditions, easy and inexpensive to maintain, visually pleasing, and free of the kind of problems that can compromise athletic performance," state the authors.

The book stays with the established custom of dividing North American into three general growing zones: warm, transitional, and cool. The book begins with field design; irrigation and drainage are next up; in the third spot is soil; batting cleanup is turfgrass selection; Chapter 5 is construction and reconstruction; Chapter 6 is renovation; Chapter 7 focuses on the maintenance of management of the skinned area; Chapter 8 is turfgrass maintenance and management; Chapter 9 is field aesthetics; Chapter 10 considers the auxiliary structures (fences, backstops, dugouts and bullpens); and Chapter 11 finishes the game with the rules and regulations.

The authors conclude the preface with these words: "We take great satisfaction in the thought that this book may play a role in providing a new generation of safe, competitive, and easy-to-maintain fields on which people of all ages can have fun, become more fit, and pursue the dream of athletic excellence."

Nearly ever page of this book has either a table, a graphic or a photograph to bring home its points.

About the authors: Jim Puhalla is president of Sportscape International, Inc. He studied landscape architecture at Ohio State University, and has worked in the sports field industry since 1978.

Jeff Krans, PhD, is a professor of agronomy at Mississippi State University in the golf and sports turf management program.

Mike Goatley, PhD, is a professor of agronomy in plant and soil sciences at Mississippi State University.

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June 18, 2019, 9:06 pm PDT

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