After the University of Notre Dame’s baseball team beat No. 30 Oregon, 6-3, on March 31 — despite rainstorms that threatened the game’s cancellation — Irish head coach Mik Aoki took to Twitter: “Huge shout out to @FieldTurf which made it possible to play after a torrential rain.”
TURF: 1 │ GRASS: 0
Rain is not an issue with turf. Neither is snow, which can easily be removed.
Those are just two reasons why baseball is the next frontier in synthetic turf. Teams at all levels are reaping the benefits of reduced maintenance, superior drainage, and consistent ball bounce and speed — all while enjoying a true home field advantage.
“To me, if you’re a school that’s serious about baseball, synthetic turf is a must,” says Todd Whitting, head baseball coach at the University of Houston, where FieldTurf installed artificial turf (complete with a bright-red, 45-foot-tall “UH” logo in the outfield) in 2015. The Cougars, a perennial powerhouse, went 26-7 at home last season and are off to a 15-5 start at home this year.
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Here are five key reasons why baseball should be played on artificial turf:
True Playability and Predictability. Synthetic turf is the great equalizer in all sports, but perhaps more so in baseball. On systems built with proper infill levels, bounces and hops play the same regardless of where the ball hits, allowing players on both teams to anticipate ball movement on (pardon the pun) an even playing field. Need we remind you of this:
Reduced Maintenance and Less Abrasion. The primary challenges of maintaining a baseball field come from the infield and the dirt, which is why many facility owners opt to install a synthetic infield and baselines first, while keeping natural grass in the outfield — at least for the time being. FieldTurf’s high-performance fibers, which combine the biomechanical properties of natural grass with a durable synthetic system, also have been proven to be less abrasive than other surfaces when sliding.
No More Rainouts. As any baseball player, coach or manager can attest, sitting in the dugout watching rain cascade down from a gray sky is one of the lowest feelings in world. With a FieldTurf surface, which is designed for all-weather playability and ready for action during even the heaviest of rainfalls, you’ll never experience that feeling again. The SureLock patented coating system is applied strategically to allow most of the FieldTurf surface to breathe and remain naturally porous for unmatched drainage capabilities.
An Evergreen and Plush Field. As a recruiting tool in the offseason, nothing speaks to a prospect quite like a strong and bold synthetic surface: It’s always green, with bright paint lines and no weeds, mud or dead spots. Plus, once the season begins, teams on turf can practice outside earlier than their grass-field rivals, who must take indoor batting and fielding practice until the snow melts and their grass field is playable. Turf also allows coaches and players to use the entire field for drills and other practice activities without worrying about overusing certain sections.
Traditions Change. Consider the long-held traditions of baseball and how quickly some of them have fallen: Major League Baseball now allows 10 (10!) teams to make the playoffs, and players wear camo-colored uniforms and pink accessories. “Artificial turf is right up there with people’s position on the designated hitter,” Whitting says. “You’re messing with tradition. We had some amount of pushback from fans when we made the switch. But my response to them was, ‘Just wait until you see it.’ Since then, I’ve heard no complaints. When you walk into our stadium, there’s definitely a wow factor.”