DBBC Head Groundskeeper Scott Strickland works tirelessly to make sure the Durham Bulls have the perfect playing surface at the DBAP. But recently he went the extra mile to make sure some middle schoolers have a solid and safe foundation for baseball.
Back in January, one of the parents at Brogden Middle School in Durham reached out to Strickland to get his input on how to make their ball field better.
“Suffice it to say Scott stepped up in a big way in helping Brogden make major improvements to the field,” wrote Principal LaTonya Smith and Head Baseball Coach Gary Thompson in a letter of thanks to the Bulls. “Scott met a couple of times at the field, giving advice related to removing the little bit of grass that was growing.”
Strickland explained the process of refurbishing the field.
“After we met a couple times we came up with a ‘mini renovation’ plan for the field,” said Strickland. “Through our partners at Sunbelt Equipment Rentals, the parents were able to rent a sod cutter and remove all of the vegetation from what would be the infield grass area. While everyone wants a grass infield, these areas are incredibly difficult to maintain for middle schools as it takes a lot of water, fertilizer, and maintenance time to keep in a safe playing condition. Theirs was not safe as it had a lot of bare and low spots, so we agreed to remove the grass.”
Strickland then enlisted a few of his Bulls colleagues to go over and use that tiller to freshen up the Brogden infield.
“What will happen a lot of the times is a school system will build a field out of pretty decent materials but then the fields sit there for 5-10-15 years with no cultivation practices,” he explained. “All of the sands in the soil profile will rise to the top of the surface and really turn it into an unsafe playing surface. We tilled the areas that were a little higher than the rest more aggressively and pulled from those areas to fill in the low spots. Then we rolled the entire surface to help pack it back down.”
“The final step was adding an infield conditioner product that is used on higher end surfaces (all college, minor and professional baseball fields),” Strickland continued. “We remove a lot of this on a nightly basis from our mounds, plates, baselines, and infield and like to put it to good use as it is fairly expensive. This worked out perfectly with Brogden and we were able to transport a lot of the material to them and cover their entire infield with it. Roughly $2,000 worth of product that we could not use anymore but was perfect for them.”
Strickland also provided the team with a new pitching rubber, home plate and field drags, items that he said were “not in a condition that we can use them anymore, but beyond good enough for a middle school.”
Smith, Thompson and the Brogden players and parents are greatly appreciative of Strickland’s expertise.
“The parents and PTA raised funds for some of our improvements (e.g., a new net for our batting cage), but we would not have been able to make the improvements to the field, which will make a difference for years to come, without the help of the Bulls and Scott,” said Smith and Thompson.
The entire process became a prime example of how teamwork can make a big difference.
“We were so fortunate for the Durham Bulls’ employees to come and help our school with the baseball field,” said Smith. “It became a community lovefest, where school, families, and community came together with a goal and worked together to complete. It was amazing to witness.”