Baseball fields come in all shapes and sizes. While each has its own unique features, diamonds across the world share plenty of common characteristics. It's these similarities -- pitcher's mound, bases, dugouts, scoreboards -- that allow the game to maintain the same structure from Little League to the Bigs. After all, every young ballplayer dreams of playing on a green outfield and a crisp diamond, just like the Major League they admire.
Each year, players at the Little League World Series get that chance, and it's all thanks to the grounds crew. Just last year, in fact, the LLWS crew featured a volunteer with Major League experience: Evan Fowler, a Little League grad who now works as a groundskeeper for the Kansas City Royals. We spoke with Fowler about getting both Lamade and Kauffman Stadiums ready for World Series play.
Lamade Stadium Quick Facts
Location: Williamsport, Pa.
Capacity: 40,000, including lawn seating
• The steep outfield hillside creates the perfect slide for a ride on a sheet of cardboard, even during games.
• A 14-foot statue of "The Mighty Casey" next to the outfield scoreboard depicts the fabled slugger from the poem "Casey at the Bat."
Outfield: 225 feet
Basepaths: 60 feet
Mound to Home Plate: 46 feet
How much time is usually spent getting a field ready for a game?
Fowler: During baseball season, the grass never stops growing. In Kansas City, we staff a crew of five to 10 guys, who work seven days a week from March to November. A game day starts around 7 a.m. and is over after our postgame routine, usually around 11 p.m. From start time until around noon, we are getting things repaired from the night before. After lunch, we set up for batting practice and early workouts. Just before game time, we put the finishing touches on the field.
Which field is more difficult to get ready: Kauffman or Lamade?
Given that Kauffman has almost three times the square footage of Lamade, it is a bit tougher to handle. But since Lamade is so much smaller, the amount of wear and tear it gets during the World Series is more noticeable and more difficult to manage.
How do the two fields compare?
Both Lamade and Volunteer Stadium (in Williamsport) can be considered miniature replicas of big league ballparks. We use the same tools and techniques as in the Majors, just on a bit smaller playing surface.
How did your experience at the LLWS help in your current role with the Royals?
If it wasn't for my family's tie to Little League, and my involvement with preparing the fields for the LLWS every year, I probably never would have gotten into groundskeeping -- let alone be doing it in the Major Leagues.