Bowman Field, the second-oldest minor league ballpark in the U.S., is getting a “Big League” makeover. The field will play host to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and St. Louis Cardinals Aug. 20 during the Little League World Series.
BrightView Design Group created a new field design and handed it off to BrightView’s Sports Turf and Development teams, which descended on a snow-covered Williamsport March 1. After a full survey of the field to confirm grades and overall field conditions, the BrightView teams began by removing 1 ½ feet of material from the existing field.
“We started by installing a new drainage system and irrigation, then four inches of pea gravel and the root-zone level of the playing surface, followed by four inches of infield clay mix,” said Dennis Winkler, General Superintendent of Construction at BrightView Landscape Development. “We faced some initial challenges getting the new material to subgrade due to the weather.”
BrightView brought in 6,000 tons of sand and root-zone material to build the field. To get the surface to precise MLB standards, a laser hooked up to a tractor operating a box blade brought the surface to within ¼ inch of the finished grade.
In addition to the field, BrightView will oversee the installation of new foul poles, bullpens, a batter’s eye, and backstop net to meet MLB requirements.
The pitching mound and home plate were recently installed. Sod for both the infield and outfield was scheduled for installation the week of May 30.
“We use a surveyor to identify foul pole locations, the first and third base lines, and the exact locations and heights of the pitching rubber and home plate,” said Kevin Moses, Account Manager at BrightView Sports Turf. “The entire field is constructed from home plate with the pitching rubber set exactly 10 inches higher, which we installed to a tolerance of 1/100th of an inch.”
After the sod is installed, final grades will be set and additional measurements taken to ensure the field meets all MLB specifications before the Williamsport Crosscutters’ home opener June 20. BrightView will continue to maintain the field during the team’s season leading up to the MLB Little League Classic game.
The game is evidence of Major League Baseball and the Players Association’s commitment to growing the game of baseball at the youth level.
Players from both the Pirates and Cardinals plan to attend the Little League World Series games taking place that day before welcoming the Little Leaguers and their families into Bowman Field for their game that evening.
The game will air live on ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ and ESPN Radio.
“We’ve worked with Major League Baseball for several years on fields around the world and we’re honored to work on this project in Williamsport,” said Murray Cook, President of BrightView Sports Turf. “The Crosscutters and our other partners onsite have been great and we can’t wait for game day.”