How To Layout A Baseball Field

When it comes to how to layout a baseball field you need to check 3 main factors even before you begin.


Pre-factor 1: How much space will I need?

When it comes to considering the space you need you will not only be thinking about the size of the baseball diamond. You must also think about dugouts, bathrooms, concession areas, storage facilities, bleachers, drainage swales, parking and a decent sized buffer zone to protect your audience.


Here is some suggestions with the space you may have:


  • 4.5 Acres :: 90 ft bases with 400 ft fence
  • 3 Acres :: 80 ft bases with 315 ft fence
  • 2 Acres :: 70 ft bases with 275 ft fence
  • 1.5 Acres :: 60 ft bases with 215 fence

Pre-factor 2: How will I keep my fans safe?

Most fields are actually planned without the fan in mind and how to keep them safe. This usually ends up with the bare minimum of space between fields, and fields and the bleachers. There are 3 ways to prevent this. The first is the most expensive which is an expansive overhead netting system to protect the fans. The second is taking care of it during the planning stages of the field by adding extra space between fields reducing foul ball risks. The third is the first two combined which allows for the maximum safety of your fans.


During the planning stage you will need to focus on keeping your common areas as open as they possibly can be between fields. A tip of the trade is to plant trees along the common way. The older they get the better cover they become and the better they become for shade during the summer time. Until they are grown you will need to focus on buying netting to protect these common areas. You will still need to keep up netting when the trees are fully grown but possibly not as much. But as we all know, it is better to be safe than sorry and take care of your fans.


Pre-factor 3: How will I take care of drainage?

The most critical part of taking care of the baseball field is taking care of surface drainage. The method we like to suggest is called the "turtle back". This is where the pitcher's mound is the highest point of the field.  From there the infield should be slightly graded to a 0.5 - 1% slope. The outfield and foul areas should then be graded to a 1 - 1.5% slope. This is by far the quickest and most efficient method of ridding the field of water and allowing for smooth drainage.


With the slopes set up you will need to add storm drains along the edges of the baseball field in out-of-play areas. These will be used to carry surface drained water away from the field.


After the Pre-Factors

Step 1: What is the angle of the sun on my field?

Sun is a major factor on any baseball game. You must ALWAYS try to keep the sun out of the batters eyes. For a batter to hit the ball in direct sunlight it endangers himself and everyone around him. At the same time you should be trying to keep the sun out of the fielders eyes as well. Which is why we suggest setting the field where the sun goes from southwest to northeast with the home plate at the southwestern end.


Step 2: Where do I want home plate to be?

As stated in the previous step you want the home plate to be at the southwestern end. Place home plate center with where you wish to set up your backstop. The main objective of this is to have the centerline of the field be a continuation of the centerline that runs from the backstop to the home plate.


Step 3: Where does 2nd base go?

Second base is found by using a 200 foot measuring tape with one end attached to home plate (you can use a stake as a substitute for home plate at this moment to keep the measuring tape in place). Walk in the distance from home plate to the location where you want second base. The distance you walk can vary depending on the jurisdiction or league ruling you are in. Make sure you are in the centerline of the field before placing second base.


Step 4: Where does 1st and 3rd go?

Before doing 3rd base focus on 1st first. Take the measuring tape and extend it from 2nd to where you believe approximately 1st base to be. Next get a second measuring tape and do the same thing except from home plate this time. You should have the exact same distance from 2nd to 1st and home to 1st. This is where 1st base will be placed. After that rinse and repeat with 3rd base.


Step 5: Where does the pitching mound go?

To find the pitching mound you must know the rules of your league distance wise. Once you learn that you only need to measure from the apex of the home plate (Not counting the black edging around the plate) to the the distance the pitching mound should be placed in the direction of 2nd base.


Step 6: Where do foul lines and foul poles go?

To locate where your foul poles should be placed you need to do some math. You need to use the geometric formula for a right triangle which is X² + Y² = Z². To find the left field foul line, let X equal the distance between 2nd and 3rd base. Let Y equal the distance you want the foul line to extend past 3rd base to the foul pole. Square each of these two numbers. Add them together. Then take the square root of the sum of the two numbers to calculate the length of Z, or the hypotenuse. Once you have X, Y and Z, you can go to work in the field triangulating the location of your foul pole.



In this example we set the bases to be 60 ft across which makes X = 60. We decided to make the left field foul line 270 feet so you subtract 60 from 270 and you get 210 which is what Y will be. After that all you need to do is square x and y and add them together. 210² = 44100 and 60² = 3600. Add them together to get 47700. Then find the square root 47700 which is roughly 218.40. That makes Z = 218.40.


Break Down:


X² = 60 * 60 = 3600 ft
Y² = 210 * 210 = 44100 ft
X² + Y² = Z²
3600 ft + 44100 ft = Z²
Z² = 47700 ft
√Z² = 218.40 ft
Z = 218.40 ft

To convert the remaining decimal into inches, you multiply the number of inches in a foot by 0.4 (the extra decimal).
12 in/ft x 0.4 ft = 4.8 in


In this example and from these calculations, we know the distance from 2nd base to the left field foul pole (Z) is:
218 feet 4.8 inches