Home (plate) away from Home


 Getting out of the house

For most of my adult life, I didn't travel much. And if I did, it was within the bounds of the Inland Empire to the Sacramento Valley. I've never been one for vacations.

Last year, that started to change a bit. Baseball grabbed my reins and started directing me toward adventures away from home. In 2020, tournaments were calling,  and I tested the waters in LA, San Diego and finally in Arizona for my first NABA World Series. I was hooked. 

This year brought me to even more places. 

Four bases form a square with 90 foot sides. The pitching rubber is 60'6" from home plate. These characteristics are universal to every baseball field, excluding smaller youth fields. Beyond these fixed attributes, every field is different, from the outfield distances, to foul territory to dugouts. Some fields have odd features that require special consideration, called ground rules. In some places it's a dirt infield, others it's grass, and sometimes it's artificial turf. One of the beauties of baseball, that's different from most other team sports, is that the playing dimensions of almost every field are unique to that place. 

This year I've had the pleasure of playing games on 14 different fields at 12 venues in 10 separate cities. On Saturday, I'll be playing at one more, thanks to an invite I received earlier this week. 

Las Vegas

This year of baseball started in March with my first ever trip to Las Vegas, NV. A city of lights and vice, families and fun. And baseball. 

Garside Park

The first game of my baseball season started at Garside Park in the northwest part of the city.. A field with short fences, a rutted mound and some crazy hops off the infield. A well used field situated in a neighborhood between a school and homes.  

Hadland Park

Next it was on Hadland Park in the northeast section.  This field was large and in charge. It's grass was nicely cropped, the infield and mound, dusty but otherwise playing true. The dugout were spacious and comfortable. The outfield was big, huge even. The average depth the outfielders played closer to the infield than the fence, it was that big. This was a fun place to play under the lights.

Fields in the 805

Sinsheimer Stadium, San Luis Obispo

In April, I got to celebrate my favorite holiday, our adult league's opening day, at our main field, Sinsheimer Stadium in San Luis Obispo. Our league's home field sports  a moderately large field with an infield that can be tricky a times, decent sized dugouts, stadium seating cut into the hillside, and instead of chain link, netting provides the backstop and protection to spectators. 

Due to scheduling conflicts with the local collegiate summer team, the SLO Blues, and maintenance, we had the opportunity to play at other fields through out the season. 

Alvord field, Atascadero

Attached to Atascadero lake park, the zoo and featuring the "Faces of Freedom" memorial across the parking lot, this field more than the rest feel like home to me. Not because it's the closest drive from where I live, but because this is the field I grew up playing on almost 30 years ago. While there have been upgrades to the snackbar/bathroom building and a net added along the foul lines to protect cars, the field has barely changed from all those years ago. The shortest of the fields I played on this year with 325' to center and 310'/285' to the corners, it was a piece of living nostalgia to play here again. 

Porter field, Arroyo Grande

Porter field at Soto Sports Complex in Arroyo Grande serves as the main field for practice in the league. It also hosts our games a few weeks a year. With fences shorter than Sinsheimer and deeper than Alvord, it's a fun but tricky place to play. The infield plays slow due to the grass being cut high, but the launching ramps are where the real fun is. A hump where the dirt meets the green sits in front of the middle infield positions and learning to play the hops they create is the challenge every shortstop and second baseman must master for success. 

Elks Field, Santa Maria

This year, the league playoffs were hosted at Elks field in Santa Maria. Average down the foul lines, center field pushes deep away from the plate. A nice infield with grass basepaths down the lines and decent outfield. The sun is blinding from rightfield in the afternoon. A beige building behind the batter and glare off the metal stands keeps one guessing where the ball is hit. 

Arizona (1st trip)

October might have been the busiest month of my life in relation to baseball and traveling. My Chevy Malibu saw a lot of road miles as I made the drive down twice, once for the NABA World Series and a few weeks later for the MSBL World Series.

Riverview Field 4, Mesa

On the first day of the NABA tourney, my first game was at the spring training home of the Cubs. This game was on one of the back fields, but even the secondary fields are professional. Well groomed with firm batting boxes and infields. A large outfield, the batters eye in centerfield kept the morning sun out of our eyes while batting. It is nice complex with restrooms centered between the 4 fields for quick in game access. The walk to and from the parking isn't long. It was a great place to start. That there were no available bullpens was disappointing. 

Tempe Diablo Field 2, Tempe

Immediately after game 1, I loaded up in the car and drove straight to Tempe Diablo, the spring training home of the Angels, for the next game. Field 2 is directly across the parking lot from the Stadium so the walk down to the dugout wasn't bad. The grass was nice and the infield was freshly prepped between games. The batters boxes started flat but were soon dug out from use. The sun was high and to the south and didn't play much of a factor throughout the game. I came in to close out the last 2 innings pitching and the mound was still firm with little to no rutting. 

American Family of Fields Field 7, Maryvale

Day 2 was an afternoon/night doubleheader at the Brewers spring complex. Of the fields this tourney, this one had the best grass, both on the infield and outfield. The dirt started off nice but dried out quickly. The crosswinds played havoc on fly backs, especially those down the foul lines. It made for some interesting balls in play. The lighting was fantastic, the bullpens were easy to access and restrooms were nearby. 

Tempe Diablo Stadium, Tempe

Our last game brought me back to Tempe Diablo.. There's nothing like playing in a stadium, especially when it's one used by a MLB team. The walk up the steps to the concourse makes the experience surreal. Before our game even started there was a bit of excitement. A lightning storm with strikes within a mile of the field delayed things until it passed through. Then while the field was being prepped and we were warming up, the rain started dumping for about 15 mins. In the end our game was delayed about an hour. The dugouts are huge, recessed and comfortable. The grass was in decent shape. The infield was a bit sticky from the rain but the sunny skies that followed dried to out within a few innings. With the butte off to the left field side of the facility, the view and experience was the highlight of the trip. 

Arizona (trip2)

A couple weeks after coming home, it was time to take the 9 hour drive again. This time I would be playing with a team from Oklahoma. And instead of a hotel, I stayed in an Airbnb condo with new teammates I just met. It turned out to be a great experience.

Salt River Fields Field D6, Scottsdale

Day one saw a doubleheader at the spring complex shared by the Rockies and Diamondbacks. This was the closest place to the condos we were staying at. Our games were on the D-back side of the facility. It was a long walk from the closest parking. It was a nice field with a good infield, decent mound and deep outfield. The dugouts were smallish but there was easy access to the shade behind them and the bullpen next to them. I a scoreless 9th inning in our game 1 loss. I was behind the dish for game 2. Had a great time playing here

Indian School Park, Scottsdale

Day 2 kept me in Scottsdale. This former home of the Giants minor league complex, this field sat in a part designed for enjoyment of the community. Beach volleyball, tennis and basketball courts join the baseball fields, playgrounds and community center. The field was gorgeous with a large batters eye in center. The field played nicely and the wind coming in from left center created a challenge for power hitters (something I'm definitely not). Catching on that field was nice.

Goodyear Complex Indians Field 4, Goodyear

This was the longest drive of either trip, an hour from the condo, but luckily it was another doubleheader. A decent field with an airplane storage yard out past the rightfield fence. This was another afternoon/night twofer. The bullpens were right next to our dugout and an open batting cage was there as well. While there was nothing to complain about so far as the field went, the sun for game one was brutal. Blinding to the centerfielders, the ball got lost on more than one play. Also the restrooms were near the parking lot, a couple hundred yards from the field I was on. But I was playing baseball so I loved it. 

American Family of Fields Field 6, Maryvale

On the final day, I got the game 6 start. Back in Maryvale, this time on the field next door. The mound was perfect and didn't rut at all. The grass was excellent, the infield played beautifully and the outfield was deep. The dugouts were smallish, but there was plenty of room for overflow along the outer fence. We played out best game there. It was a lot of fun. 

It was a real blessing to play in Arizona twice this year. The fields and facilities are top notch. I lucked out big time with the temperatures, in the low to mid 80s for both trips. The drive back was slow going and 2 hours longer than expected due to traffic, but I still can't wait to go again next year.

Coming up...

Sollecito Field, Monterey, CA

Baseball keeps finding me. Who am I to say no? My offseason got pushed back, thanks to an invite I received. On Saturday, I'll be making the 2 hour trip to the Monterey peninsula to play in an exhibition game between a team from my league and a team from the local one there. Our game will be played prior to their league's All Star game. Though I haven't been to that field since my dad used to bring me to the park next door, I'm really excited to play there. Right off the water, it will be my first time playing on turf. 

Baseball has brought me farther out in the world. If I'm lucky, I'll see more venues across the country as games and tournaments call to me. 

⚾️⚾️⚾️

Play ball







Comments

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