West Ham United of the English Premier League play at London Stadium most Saturdays. The pitch consists of a 100-yard-wide and 140-yard-long rectangle.

However, on Saturday, it hosted the Cubs and Cardinals, whose requirements for playing are slightly different. Murray Cook, MLB’s field consultant, was tasked with transforming a pitch into a park. Cook has constructed ballparks and fields all over the world, assisting in the management of projects as diverse as the Dodgers’ and D-backs’ trip to Australia in 2014 and the construction of a ballpark in a cornfield for the Field of Dreams game.

• London Series Cook told MLB.com during a walk-through prior to the London Series, “The field is going to have regulation infield like you would see in any Major League ballpark.” The pitcher’s mound, home plate, and full-size clay infield baselines are all there. Bullpens are going in right and left field behind the corners of right and left field.”

Before the first London Series in 2019, baseball had actually looked into playing international games in soccer stadiums for more than a decade. However, it was nearly impossible to turn a rectangular pitch into a playable field, so London Stadium, which also has space for track and field events, was needed.

Cook stated, “They just don’t fit because you have a right-field or left-field fence that is 240 feet down the line.” Doesn’t work for baseball. Possibly for an exhibition or something else, but not for a regular-season game. Therefore, we began investigating locations with track and field venues, which now have eight additional lanes, a running lane, and a shot lane. You have a wider width, which gives you an additional couple hundred feet. We were standing 385 feet from the center in 19 even then.

With 10 home runs between the Red Sox and Yankees, the 2019 Series was definitely offensively oriented. Cook altered the field’s shape this time around and gathered additional footage wherever he could. In Game 1 of the 2023 London Series, Chicago defeated the Cardinals 9-1 with three home runs, two of which came from Ian Happ.

“We were able to accomplish a few things this year. “We’re able to pick up another seven feet here because the seats are changing,” Cook stated. We are 335 down the lines and 392 to the center. We’ve a limited the foul area – – we’ve added a few feet.”

Cook has figured out the best way to put a ballfield inside London Stadium, but building the field is the hardest part. The stadium was cleared of grass after West Ham’s season ended so that it could host a concert series, leaving only a flat plane of ArmorTec on the ground.

“It’s like a big blank canvas or a palette for an artist to come to and say, ‘OK, what do we put now?'” Cook laughed.

He had to first sculpt the field. Even though a ballfield may appear flat, this is not actually the case.

The infield of a baseball field is relatively level, but it is also slightly elevated. Cook stated, “There’s a little bit of a pitch on the infield dirt.” After that, the outfield is flat. We had to bring in aggregate to level everything because a track and field venue’s flooring has a one-way pitch.

In order to achieve the proper slope and layout of a major league park, the aggregate, which is small pieces of crushed stone, was four to five inches in some places and up to eight inches in others.

The turf came next. Bermuda, Kentucky Bluegrass, and Perennial Ryegrass, to name a few, are examples of grass varieties. Turf varieties are similar. Fielders at London Stadium will experience the same shift under their feet as they would on a natural grass field with a clay or dirt warning track because the outfield grass will actually have a different surface than the warning track.

Then, infill is added to the turf to help shape the playing surface so it behaves normally. Cook demonstrated the various effects that each surface had on the ball by bouncing a baseball on some small patches of turf they had experimented with the day we spoke. Even though baseball fields don’t have a clear standard like NFL or FIFA-approved pitches, the turf at London Stadium did go through a pretty thorough inspection in nearby Leicester.

Cook stated, “We do a GMAX test, a Clegg hammer test, which demonstrates the hardness or softness of the field.” “We did this in 2019.” Additionally, we conduct a shoe test in which a shoe is placed on the device’s bottom and torqued to determine how the spikes would fit into the turf. We test it with water to make sure it drains. To see how it works, we’ve gone through a lot of different parts.”

Cook emphasizes that this is absolutely not the case, despite the fact that many people believe that artificial turf is easier to maintain than grass. They view it as a surface that can be set and forgotten about.

Maintaining the edges where the clay is is very labor-intensive. Cook stated, “You have to sweep it back out of the grass because the clay moves over in the grass.” A man is running on it, and when he does, his shoes kick up the dirt. When they’re running around, guess what happens to all that infill in the outfield? Because it is kicking up, you must return to the field and groom after workouts and practices to ensure that all of the infill remains level.

Naturally, there is yet another issue that no one considers:

“Sunflower seeds just lay on top of the guys who are spitting them. Cook chuckled, “They don’t go anywhere.”

Now that the London Series is here and the field is set, Cook concedes there is one thing he esteems over all else. It’s not about getting the ball to bounce perfectly or making sure the infield slopes in the right direction in a place where midfielders typically run amok.

“Security is my main objective. Cook stated, “I don’t want anyone to be hurt.” We need to ensure the field is protected. We want everything from the padding we put up to the foul poles to the lines we draw to be as similar as possible to a Major League ballpark.”

Topics #ballpark #baseball field #Dreams game #London Stadium #Premier League #track