Four Fields Finished

Cutting out the entire infield grass, raking and grading the dirt, leveling the playing surface, laying out brand new grass and rebuilding the entire pitchers mound and home plate areas. That was the just the major work done as part of our 4 in 24 project. Other work included raking, painting, weed whacking, bullpen work, and laying stabilizer on the infield dirt.

All of that…done to four fields…in 21 hours. A remarkable feat.

Part of our mission as the Capital Region’s professional baseball team is to act as a steward for the game. The 4 in 24 project was a great way to further this initiative by giving back to the community that has supported us since 2002. It was an amazing team-building experience for our staff and we could not have completed this ambitious undertaking without the help of our corporate partners, Price Chopper, CDTA, Friendly’s, and the Brickman Group.

The biggest challenge that we faced was the sheer size of this project. The ValleyCats organization has renovated a number of fields over the years but completing four within twenty four hours required a well-coordinated effort and a lot of coffee. Each of the leagues and sponsors provided volunteers that were crucial in moving things along. They assisted with the sod as well as other projects ranging from raking leaves to painting the dugouts.

Even the kids who would be playing on these brand new fields chipped in. It was such a humbling sight to see so many people come together, work together and make such a huge difference.

We broke our staff up into two different crews that started the project simultaneously at 5:00 AM in Westland Hills and Ballston Spa, respectively. The first step was to remove the old turf in the infield with a sod cutter. Once that was up, the infields were graded and leveled before the new sod was laid. This will provide the players with a safer and more consistent playing surface.

While this was going on, other members of our staff began re-building the pitchers mound and home plate areas to league specifications. This included installing new clay to get these areas up to professional standards. The bases were also remeasured and set with new anchors.

The crew at Westland Hills had some equipment issues that slowed things down but ultimately finished up around 5:00 PM and made the trip to Collins Park in Scotia. The Ballston Spa group arrived at Northside Little League, their second field, a bit earlier and began work there at 3:00 PM.

Fatigue became a major factor at the second fields. There was a lot of hard work put into the first fields and people were becoming physically exhausted. It was impressive to see everyone push aside the aches and pains to complete the project. The weather cooperated during the day but was chilly when we started at 5:00 AM on Friday and even colder when everything wrapped up after 2:00 AM Saturday morning.

Ultimately, it was a very rewarding experience and exciting to think about how many young ballplayers will benefit from these upgrades.

‘4 in 24’ by the numbers:

Four fields, 21 hours, over 100 volunteers, 15,200 square feet of new sod, 8 wheel barrels, 16 flat shovels, 16 pointed shovels, 16 scoop shovels, 20 infield rakes, 12 leaf rakes, 12 stone rakes, 12 tamp’s, 12 string lines, 4 pitch forks, 8 hoses, 8 hammers, 8 sheet rock knives, 2 light towers, 3 skid steer’s, 2 rollers, 2 aerator’s, 4 edgers, 2 roto tiller’s, 4 sod cutters, 2 laser levels, 2 compactor’s, 4 homeplate tarp’s, 4 mound tarps, 4 homeplates & 4 pitching rubbers.

In closing, Time Warner Cable’s TW3 will be featuring the ‘4 in 24’ project in an upcoming mini-documentary special called “In & Around Our Towns”, and FOX23 will feature it on an upcoming episode of “In the Spotlight.”

Below are the before & after pictures of each field, followed by more memorable photos from throughout the 21 hours and a link to the entire album of pictures. Special thanks goes out to Dan Carubia for snapping some of the great photographs.

Northside Little League- Before

Northside Little League- After

Northside Little League- New home plate and baselines

Northside Little League- New pitchers mound

Northside Little League- New diamond

Scotia-Glenville Infield- Before

Scotia-Glenville Infield- After

Scotia-Glenville Plate- Before

Scotia-Glenville Plate Area- After

Scotia-Glenville 3rd base area- before

Scotia-Glenville 3rd baseline- After

Ballston Spa Before

Ballston Spa- After

Ballston Spa Infield- Before

Ballston Spa Infield- After

Westland Hills- Before

Westland Hills- During

Westland Hills- During 2

Westland Hills- During 3

Westland Hills- Complete

Snapshots from throughout the day & night:

Night before the big day

Heavy machinery ready to go

Work ready to begin at the break of dawn

Local news live shots all morning

First cut being made

Sun beginning to rise

GM Rick Murphy with YNN reporter Sabina Kuriakose

Murphy with WTEN reporter Nicol Lally

Old infield sod at Westland Hills being removed

Sod has been removed in Ballston Spa

New sod being layed in Ballston Spa

All the old sod removed from Westland Hills

9-year-old Little Leaguer Nick Soldevere

New plate being inserted at Westland Hills

Making sure the plate is straight and level

Westland Hills President Michael Patnaude with Marci Natale from CBS 6 News

ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, Westland Hills President Michael Patnaude

Press conference with a mound of sod as the podium

Members of the media during the press conference

ValleyCats VP/GM Rick Murphy

ValleyCats Assistant GM Matt Callahan

CDTA Director of Marketing, Jonathan Scherzer

Price Chopper VP of Public Relations/Consumer Services, Mona Golub

Friendly Restaurants Field Marketing Manager, Bill Chiccarelli

The Brickman Group Branch Manager, Ryan Panarese

Westland Hills President Michael Patnaude

Representatives from the four major sponsors, ValleyCats GM Rick Murphy and ValleyCats mascot SouthPaw

SouthPaw got his paws dirty too

For the complete ‘4 in 24’ photo album, please click here.

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