With one week left before the start of the Midwest League season, grounds crews at all 16 ballparks are busy getting their fields ready for game action. Some are contending with standing water from melted snow (as seen in the photo above), while some are still waiting to even get to that point (as you’ll see later in this post).
There is one particular grounds crew I wish to give a special mention, for a couple reasons. The Fort Wayne TinCaps grounds crew gets special recognition for being named the Midwest League Grounds Crew of the Year in each of the last three seasons — yes, they’ve won the award in back-to-back-to-back years. They’ve deserved every one of them, too.
The other reason they get a special mention here is because, on Wednesday, they became my 1,000th follower on Twitter.* Yes, they’re on Twitter! Browse through their tweets here — even better, follow them — and check out some of the photos they’ve shared of their work. Here’s an example:
Here’s another photo from @CapsGroundsCrew, of the new 400 Club being constructed in center field, exactly 400 feet from home plate:
Here is a description of the 400 Club, from the TinCaps’ website:
The project will include replacing the existing batter’s eye with a 75-foot-long “wall of windows” directly on top of the existing centerfield wall. The windows will be part of a shaded structure that can, via five retractable overhead doors, be open-air or enclosed and climate-controlled. The area will include tiered table-top seating, a large bar, flat-screen televisions, food service and an outdoor patio. Replacing the existing fence-and-windscreen batter’s-eye with a wall of windows will allow the field to be seen from every angle around the ballpark concourse.
You can read more about the project here.
As you can see in the preceding photos, the TinCaps crew doesn’t have a snow problem to deal with. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, however, do, so they’re trying an old grounds crew trick that’s worked for them before: putting a tarp over the snow to make it melt faster.
As you can see in the above photo, the tarp currently is covering right field. And as strange as it seems, this method really does work. Check out this video from the Appleton Post-Crescent‘s Brett Christopherson for an explanation.
No matter how they do it, we know the grounds crew for each team will have their field ready for Opening Day!
*If you use Twitter and don’t already follow me there, may I suggest you do? I tweet Midwest League news and notes, statistics and scores from every MWL game (including live-tweets from games I attend), links to my articles on this blog, and occasional MWL statistics of current major-league players (using the hashtag #MWLstats). Twitter also is a great venue to use if you want to talk baseball with me!
My Twitter handle is @MWLtraveler.