Cuevas Explains How To Conquer Wet Fields

Editor/Collegiate Baseball

OMAHA, Neb. — One of the most frustrating problems for a baseball coach is rain.

Every year, downpours make baseball fields unplayable which cause scheduling problems and a lot of extra work to fix the wet mess.

While most schools have a small tarp for the pitcher’s mound and home plate areas, many can’t afford a tarp that covers the complete infield.

To compound the problem, many infields are not graded properly so water drains off this portion of the infield.

In an effort to educate many coaches who are forced to be their own groundskeepers, Collegiate Baseball went to one of the best baseball grounds superintendants in the history of baseball, Jesse Cuevas.

This gentleman took care of Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha for 42 years. This was the site of the NCAA Div. I College World Series for 60 years.

Cuevas learned everything about the groundskeeping trade from Frank Mancuso and Hall of Famer George Toma who helped prepare many Super Bowls by the NFL and other big events that required top-notch turf such as the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games and 1994 World Cup.

For many years Toma was the head groundskeeper with the Kansas City Royals.

“If you have an infield that has been hit by a lot of rain with no protection from a tarp, the first step is getting the water off the infield dirt,” said Cuevas.

“If there is a big puddle, I have used a post hole digger to dig a hole next to the puddle so water will drain into it. I would put a 2-pound coffee can at the bottom of the hole. Water would fill up the hole.

Then you get a hand pump and pump the water from the hole into a bucket and take it off the field.

“The absolute worst thing you can do to the infield dirt is try to broom the water off the field. It moves dirt around and makes the situation worst as a ridge forms near the grass, and then you have a lake.”

Cuevas said that before you can start trying to dry out the dirt, it must be dry enough so you can walk on it without sinking in. When it is at this stage, you initially can use hand rakes with rigid steel tines by multiple players.

“You start by raking the top few inches and keep raking it and turning the soil over and over.

“Once a tractor is able to get on the infield dirt, you can put a nail board on the soil that can be pulled by the tractor, and you will be able to dry the infield dirt out in a reasonable amount of time.

“Over the years, we came up with special use drags. We built a nail drag in front of chain link fencing which was used on wet soil after rains so we could get more air into the soil particles so the wet soil dried quicker.

“We also use this drag to re-distribute soil that might build up in certain areas of the infield.”

To read more of this story, purchase the May 17, 2019 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE. The rest of the story explains why lighting dirt on fire in the infield is a bad choice and the history of this tactic. Jesse Cuevas also explains how you build a field correctly so heavy rains properly flow off the field and why drainage in any field is absolutely essential so water percolates through the soil quickly, plus more.