Spring and Baseball in America
One of the most uniquely American springtime events is the return of the national pastime, baseball. Each spring, big league clubs trek to Florida or Arizona for Spring Training, youngsters register for little league and fans optimistically await the start of a new season, knowing that their team, for at least Opening Day, is in first place.
The image of a vibrant, green baseball field is a welcome reminder that the weather is improving and summer is just around the corner – but this iconic image does not manifest itself without effort. Across the country, well before seasons shift and temperatures rise, city park landscapers, schoolyard staff and major league grounds crews alike prep the green fields we know and love. Recently, We Seed America spoke with Jeff Wright, head groundskeeper for the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies, to learn what goes into creating and maintaining the iconic symbol that is the baseball diamond.
Becoming a Major League Groundskeeper
Jeff Wright is no stranger to baseball fields, having been with the Phillies organization since 1986. Back then, he worked part time as a “day of game” groundskeeper with ambitions to one day join the team as a graphic design artist. As time passed, Wright’s prowess maintaining the field and love for working outdoors helped him become something more of a grounds keeping artist, and he has worked full time on the Phillies’ grounds crew since 1990.
Beyond the basics of keeping the grass green and making sure the infield dirt is just right, there is a lot Jeff and his team must do to ensure the field it in tip top condition for game day. For example, certain varieties of grass may make the baseball roll too slow or too fast, and special decorations may be in order for postseason or World Series play. Maintaining a Major League playing field is a year long endeavor, and the challenge of keeping the field at Citizens Bank Park “the best there is in baseball” is something Jeff’s team strives for.
Major League Lawn Care
Getting a field into form for Opening Day begins with winterization steps taken just after the previous season ends, and does not look dissimilar from what is often recommended for homeowners’ lawns. According to Jeff, field winterization “might be somewhat a challenge in Philadelphia with the colder climate, but we overseed in the fall, put down our fertilizers and hope for the best.” Jeff noted there had been a few instances where particularly harsh conditions necessitated the use of winter blankets, but usually overseeding does the trick.
After winter comes Spring Training. Efforts to ready the Phillies’ facility in Clearwater, Florida begin in earnest in January and last throughout February. The impressive baseball complex includes 4 fields and over 20 pitching mounds, and requires a true group effort to maintain Major League standards.
Once the regular baseball season begins, ongoing maintenance becomes important, and this goes far beyond ensuring the grass is vibrantly green. Performance optimization is a chief concern, and feedback on the turf comes from players and coaches alike. Previously, Riviera Bermudagrass was used at Citizens Bank Park, but after hearing from players that this variety made the surface too quick, the grounds crew switched over to Kentucky bluegrass, which can be grown at a higher height than Bermudagrass and helps the game be played a little slower. Facing these sorts of challenges is something Jeff enjoys, and he is always looking for ways the turf can be optimized for performance.
Winning It All
Maintaining a major league-caliber playing surface is key to sustaining a high level of baseball prowess, which is why Jeff selected the Phillies’ 2008 World Series championship as his favorite moment as an MLB groundskeeper. According to Jeff, when the final out was made to clinch the victory, the scene on the field was “total euphoria” as players, coaches and the grounds crew all celebrated the accomplishment as one. After all, winning a championship in professional sports takes dedication at all levels, which is why Jeff and his crew were rewarded with their very own World Series championship rings, a fitting reward for countless hours of hard work and dedication.
If you’re a part of the nearly 90 percent of Americans who believe it’s important to have a well-maintained yard, you and your backyard will appreciate these seven simple steps for tending to your natural turf lawn with minimal effort.
Each year, as summer turns to fall and students make their way back to the dorms, members of elite teams train for endless hours on grass fields to achieve ultimate success. Today, on the date of the College Football Playoff National Championship, months of hard work culminates in a dazzling display of determination, grit and skill.
Oh, you thought we were talking about football? While gridiron warriors deserve their due respect, We Seed America aims to highlight some of the unsung heroes of college football: the marching bands. Read on to learn more about the national title-contending musical units of the University of Alabama and Clemson University.
Can’t get enough of the marching bands? Follow the Million Dollar Band or Tiger Band on Twitter, and make sure to vote in the We Seed America Twitter poll to name your favorite band of the 2016 College Football Playoff National Championship.
University of Alabama Million Dollar Band
Formed in 1912, the “Million Dollar Band” of Tuscaloosa is quite used to the big stage. The University of Alabama has won an NCAA record 10 national championships, giving the band multiple opportunities to shine when it matters most. When the band is not playing the school’s fight song Yea Alabama, they are often performing epic half time shows on the natural grass of Bryant-Denny Stadium, which seats over 100,000 spectators. Check out a recent performance in the video below, as the Million Dollar Band filled up AT&T Stadium with dynamic sounds in front of a national audience.
Clemson University Tiger Band
Formerly a military university, Clemson opened up its doors to the public in 1955, and at that time formally introduced the Tiger Band. While Clemson is behind Alabama in terms of college football championships, the Tiger Band has nonetheless proven to be as formidable a unit as the Million Dollar Band. Between the spirited renditions of the school’s fight song, Tiger Rag, and some of the most unique formations of any band out there, the Tiger Band is ready to display its prowess on the big stage of the College Football Playoff National Championship. Watch below as the 2013 Tiger Band delivered its fabled “Video Game Show.”
Grass Seed USA to donate $1 to veterans’ affairs organizations for each new like on Facebook or follower on Twitter during November
SALEM, Ore. – Nov. 3, 2015 – The fourth annual Operation Home Turf veteran appreciation program is underway and looking for deserving men and women in uniform, past and present, to receive a new Snapper lawn mower courtesy of Grass Seed USA, a coalition of American grass seed farmers. During the campaign, Grass Seed USA will also donate $1 for each new like on its We Seed America Facebook page or new follower on Twitter (@weseedamerica) to veterans’ affairs organizations, up to $1,000.
“Through the Operation Home Turf campaign, we are pleased to again show our appreciation for veterans’ sacrifice and dedication, in our own unique way,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “U.S. service members often spend long periods of time away from home in service of our nation, so when they are home, we want to help them create a relaxing space they can enjoy and share.”
Nominate a Veteran:
Grass Seed USA will select and ship a new, Snapper SP Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower to each of the three winning veterans. In the event that a Snapper SP Series Self-Propelled Lawn Mower is not available, Grass Seed USA will select a similar mower to fulfill the award.
Selected winners’ current or past service in the U.S. military will be subject to verification.
After a grueling 162 game season, the 2015 Major League Baseball playoffs are finally here, which means it’s time we rank the contenders on the criteria that really matter.
That’s right. Forget advanced metrics and runs batted in, the real battle this postseason will be waged by MLB grounds crews as they bring out the best green grass has to offer. Without further ado, here is We Seed America’s definitive and totally subjective ranking of 2015 MLB playoff teams’ turf. Want to add your opinion? Vote on who you think has the best field in all of baseball!
10. Toronto Blue Jays: The Blue Jays might be the best team in baseball, having hit more home runs than anyone in the sport. One thing they haven’t hit out of the park, however, is the Rogers Centre playing field, as they are the only playoff team with an artificial playing surface. But don’t worry, Blue Jays fans: the migration to natural grass turf is underway.
9. Texas Rangers: The Rangers are an unlikely postseason team, having benefited from mid-season trades that solidified their roster. One thing that’s always been solid for Texas is beautiful Globe Life Park, which features lovely greens accented by intricate patterns across the turf.
8. Los Angeles Dodgers: The Dodgers feature Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, an all-time pitching duo that helped the team capture the 2015 National League West title. Meanwhile, Dodgers Stadium remains as classic as ever, and the grounds crew does a nice job maintaining the local greens with solid checkerboard patterns.
7. New York Yankees: The venerable Yankees have enjoyed a positive comeback season, led by a group of wily veterans. On the grass, Yankees Stadium is as venerable as ever. The most iconic home field in all of sports features solid turf work and historic Monument Park in center field.
6. New York Mets: The Mets are led by what is arguably the best pitching staff in baseball, including 23 year old phenom Noah “Thor” Syndergaard. Thus, it makes sense the grounds crew in Queens does a landscaping job worthy of a hammer-wielding god. The Mets receive bonus points for the unique “Home Run Apple” at Citi Field.
5. Kansas City Royals: The Royals won America’s hearts last season as they captured the American League pennant and came *this close* to taking the 2014 World Series. Kansas City continues to play in style at Kauffman Stadium this year, where outfield waterfalls complement the grounds crew’s great work on the diamond.
4. Chicago Cubs: Chicago’s exciting, young Cubs hope to reverse the team’s infamous title curse this year while playing on the always beautiful Wrigley Stadium field. Dating back more than a century, Wrigley Field, its turf and the ivy outfield wall are recognized by baseball enthusiasts across the globe.
3. Pittsburgh Pirates: Star center fielder Andrew McCutchen may have removed his magnificent dreadlocks, but the Pirates aren’t likely to remove the near-perfect turf at PNC Park anytime soon. This grass field is accented by the gorgeous Pittsburgh skyline and the unique “Pirates” outfield hedge. C’est magnifique!
2. Houston Astros: As the Astros prepare to face the Yankees in the American League Wild Card game, we are not-so-secretly rooting for a victory by the young team, primarily so we can get a closer look at the unique dimensions of Minute Maid Park, which features the only grass hill in all of the bigs.
1. St. Louis Cardinals: Despite a slew of injuries, the Cards managed to finish the season with MLB’s best record. But what really sets them apart in this competition is the magnificent homage to local Gateway Arch in center field of Busch Stadium. To say it’s a masterpiece would be an understatement.
Vote now to tell us who YOU think should be ranked #1!
Blast from the past!
We stumbled across this grass-tastic Bill Nye the Science Guy segment from 1993. During this episode, themed “Plants,” he covered a car with a layer of grass to communicate the benefits turf grass has on the environment and ecosystems. Check out the clip here:
If you’re interested to learn more about the environmental benefits of grass, read our recent blog post about the 5 top reasons to love your lawn.
Fall Lawn Care Essentials: 5 Easy Steps to Take in September
Grass Seed USA shares tips on how to prep your lawn for winter
SALEM, Ore. – Sept. 2, 2015 – Winter is coming, so it’s time to start thinking about how to ensure your lawn is prepped and ready for the colder months ahead. Lawn care begins to change in the fall as your lawn tries to take in as much nutrients and moisture as it can. Grass Seed USA, a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, shares a few simple steps to ensure you have a healthy lawn come spring.
“September is the best time to prepare your lawn for the dormant winter months,” said Bryan Ostlund, Grass Seed USA executive director. “This time of year, simple lawn care chores such as reseeding, weeding and aerating will help your grass immensely.”
The United States can be roughly divided into three grass-growing zones: Cool Zone, Transition Zone and Warm Zone (see graphic).
If you live in the Warm Zone, fall is a time to sit back and enjoy your lawn, as few winterization measures are needed and new warm-season lawns are best planted in the late spring or early summer. One option you may want to consider is overseeding – adding cool-season grass seed over your warm-season turf. The cool-season grass will thrive until the warm-season grass turns green again in the spring, giving you a lush lawn year-round.
Homeowners in the Cool Zone and Transition Zone should take similar steps to prepare their lawns for winter. In these areas, fall is a good time for the following activities:
About Grass Seed USA
Grass Seed USA is a national coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists with a wealth of experience in studying, growing and harvesting grass and grass seed. The coalition seeks to inform and educate residential and commercial customers about the benefits of grass and best practices for responsibly growing and maintaining healthy turf. For more information, visit www.weseedamerica.com, or follow on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest.
In this day and age there are apps for everything, from social networks to shopping and even bacon-themed alarm clocks. So it makes sense that there are some fantastic lawn care apps out there as well! Whether you like getting your green thumb on or have others take care of your yard, we’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite #TurfTech apps. Have a favorite app that didn’t make the list? Share it with us on Facebook or Twitter!
Lawn Care Services Apps
Dick Allen, former Major League Baseball MVP
In 1972, Chicago White Sox first baseman Dick Allen won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award. To many, the honor could be considered the crowning achievement of his career. At We Seed America, we’d like to think the quote Dick offered in 1970 about his preference for playing on natural grass was just as valuable. Why? Because playing sports on natural grass turf provides a host of benefits for those participating in them. Read on to learn three ways playing sports on grass is good for athletes of all ages.
Dick Allen photo by Getty Images
Now that school’s out for the summer, it’s time to take advantage of all the sunny days by crafting fun activities that get everyone outside and staying active. So without further ado, here are 5 fun activities to enjoy your lawn this summer. Enjoy, and make sure to share photos of your activities with us on Facebook or Twitter!
1. Lawn Tic-Tac-Toe: Ruth at Living Well, Spending Less has all the info you need to get 3 X’s or O’s in a row to become the family Tic-Tac-Toe champ!
2. Lawn Scrabble: Constantly Lovestruck shows us how to test our brawn and brain with the innovative lawn scrabble. In case you were wondering, “GRASS” is worth 6 points in standard scoring. Lawns? 8.
3. Backyard Ker-Plunk: Great for the little ones, enjoying a backyard game of Ker-Plunk is bound to keep everyone entertained and laughing while enjoying a nice lemonade or beer in the backyard. Thanks, Amy at All Parenting!
4. Lawn Memory: Kelly at Studio DIY has everything you need to know to challenge your memory skills right on your own lawn! Difficulty can be adjusted for younger or older kids, or even adults!
5. Lawn Yahtzee: Try to get a royal flush or full house by making these wonderful wooden outdoor lawn dice from The Wood Connection! On top of a great time, you’ll have some great lawn art!