The second-oldest minor league ballpark in the United States, Bowman Field, is getting a makeover. On Aug. 20, during the Little League World Series, the field will play host to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals.
BrightView Design Group created a new field design and handed it off to BrightView’s Sports Turf and Development teams. The BrightView team began by removing 1 ½ feet of material from the existing field after a full survey of the field to confirm grades and overall field conditions.
“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.”
After bringing in 6,000 tons of sand and root-zone material to build the field, BrightView used a laser hooked up to a tractor operating a box blade to get the surface to precise MLB standards. The operating box brought the surface to within ¼ inch of the finished grade.
BrightView will also oversee the installation of new foul poles, a batter’s eye, a backstop net and bullpens to meet MLB requirements. Recently, the home plate and pitching mound were installed, and sod for both the outfield and infield is 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 installation of the sod, final grades will be set and additional measurements will be taken to ensure the field meets all MLB specifications before the Williamsport Crosscutters’ home opener on June 20. BrightView says it will continue to maintain the field during the team’s season leading up to the MLB Little League Classic game.
Players from both the Cardinals and Pirates plan to attend the Little League World Series games taking place that day before they welcome the Little Leaguers and their families to Bowman Field for their evening game.
“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.”
This game will be aired live on ESPN’s ‘Sunday Night Baseball’ and ESPN Radio.