Like the game itself, managing a baseball field requires practice, patience, and the right equipment. This is especially true after a rain event disrupts the surface of your outfield. Keep reading to learn a few common mistakes you should avoid the next time rain changes your plans.

Rushing Back Onto the Field

It’s easier said than done, but patience goes a long way after a rain event. Rushing onto a wet infield can lead to long-term issues that could be avoided by waiting a few hours and using sound judgment. Many of us have been put into a position where we think: the sooner, the better. However, allowing equipment or even manual labor to “open” up the skin can lead to issues long after this one event. What happens to the grade that the organization spent several thousand dollars to have properly finished by a professional company? Will allowing an employee to enter a wet, soggy field with equipment and leave ruts really speed up the process? Or is allowing a team to rake the field and cause speed bumps and piles of infield mix really going to help? Maybe it will in the short term, but the long-term costs are significant.

Using the Wrong Materials

Don’t use just any material that you might have in stock to try drying out the infield. At one point in my own career, we had a team using our facility to facilitate a “showcase” for area high school players. The morning of the event, I received a phone call from one of the coaches stating that there was a puddle around second base. I recommended that he use some infield conditioner that we had stored outside, covered. To my surprise, when I arrived back to the ballfield on Monday, I realized he had used warning track material rather than the infield conditioner. When in doubt, ask an expert which material would be the best for the conditions of the field.

Using the Wrong Equipment

Nail dragging is a very important maintenance practice when used correctly. However, a large, heavy spike apparatus that might be found on a farm is not something to use on your field. The damage can be extensive, even to a properly graded field. The goal of nail dragging is to create indentions a quarter-inch deep to create that crust. Digging in an inch or two will only create a lot of headaches. 

Player safety is always the priority, especially after a rain event. The best thing to do is to let Mother Nature take care of the situation. A few hours can make a huge difference when you have the sun, wind, and lower humidity working for you.