Volume 39, Issue 3 (May 2011)
Effects of Surface Conditions on Baseball Playing Surface Pace
The speed at which a baseball travels after impact with a playing surface has been referred to as playing surface pace. Little information is available regarding the effects of varying construction and maintenance practices on the pace of baseball playing surfaces. Research was conducted to evaluate the effects of construction and maintenance practices on a non-turfed basepath, Kentucky bluegrass (Poa pratensis L.) turf, and six synthetic turf surfaces. Factors evaluated on the non-turfed basepath included soil compaction at installation, surface scarification, and topdressing with a soil conditioner (calcined clay). The effects of cutting height and thatch thickness were evaluated on Kentucky bluegrass, while the effects of simulated traffic and grooming were evaluated on synthetic turf. On the non-turfed basepath, increasing soil compaction yielded increases in surface pace. Calcined clay topdressing and increasing scarification depth did not affect surface pace. On Kentucky bluegrass, varying cutting height and thatch thickness levels had no effect on surface pace. On synthetic turf, increases in simulated traffic resulted in slight increases in pace. Surface pace measurements on synthetic turf were less variable than those made on natural turfgrass. The results indicate that the pace of commonly used baseball playing surfaces is not easily altered with minimally invasive maintenance procedures and should be addressed at construction or during aggressive renovations.