How To Layout A Baseball Field
When it comes to the layout a baseball field, you need to check 3 main factors before you begin.
Pre-factor 1: How much space will I need?
When considering the space you need, you will not only be thinking about the size of the baseball diamond. It would help if you also thought 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 planned without the fan in mind and how to keep them safe. This usually ends with the bare minimum of space between fields, fields, and bleachers. There are 3 ways to prevent this. The first is the most expensive, 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, allowing for your fans' maximum safety.
During the planning stage, you must focus on keeping your common areas as open as possible 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 care for drainage?
The most critical part of caring for the baseball field is surface drainage. The method we like to suggest is called the "turtleback". This is where the pitcher's mound is the field's highest point. 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 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 sun's angle on my field?
Sun is a major factor in any baseball game. It would help if you ALWAYS tried 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 also be trying to keep the sun out of the fielders' eyes. 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 the home plate to be?
As stated in the previous step, you want the home plate to be at the southwestern end. Place the home plate center where you wish to set up your backstop. The main objective 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 the home plate (you can use a stake as a substitute for a 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 for home plate. It would help if you had the 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 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. It would be best if you used the geometric formula for a right triangle which is X² + Y² = Z². Let X equal the distance between the 2nd and 3rd base to find the left field foul line. 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 work in the field, triangulating your foul pole's location.
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 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.
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