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How To Layout A Baseball Field

Reprinted From:
Beacon Ballfields

  1. The first matter to consider when laying out a ball field is the sun angle. How will the sun impact the ballplayers at the time of day when most games will take place on the field? This is a very important consideration because it can affect every player on the diamond – batters and fielders

    Ideally, you should try to keep the sun out of the batter’s line of sight. It is very difficult, not to mention dangerous, for a batter to try to pick up a pitch when looking either directly or indirectly into the sun. In other words, it is best to keep the sun entirely behind the batter’s head so it does not present a problem during play.

    It is also very important to try to impact the least amount of fielders with the sun angle as well. Generally speaking, the best angle for both batters and fielders is to have the centerline of the field run from southwest to northeast with home plate in the southwestern end. The centerline of the field is the imaginary line running from the apex of home plate, through the middle of second base, and on to centerfield.

  2. Now that you have an idea of the direction the field should face, choose where you want home plate to be located. Check with your ruling jurisdiction for the proper distance between home plate and the backstop. If there is already a backstop installed in the field, make sure that you center the home plate with the backstop. The objective is to have the centerline of the field be a continuation of the centerline that runs from the existing backstop to home plate. Place a pin, stake or marking flag where you want the point of home plate to be located.

    Next, using a 200 ft. (or longer) measuring tape with one end attached to the stake at home plate, measure out in a direction that you want to locate second base. Place another stake at the proper distance for the base, according to the ruling league or jurisdiction that you are in. This point should be the exact center of second base and should fall on the centerline of the field.

  3. To find the location for first base, extend the measuring tape from second base in the direction of where the approximate location of first base will be. Be sure to measure the required distance according to your league of play. Then, extend a second measuring tape from the home plate towards the stake towards first base. The point at which these two tapes intersect with equal distances from home plate to first base and first base to second base is where you will place another stake. This point will be the back outside corner of first base. Repeat this process again to find the location of third base.

    To double check your work, and make sure the diamond is perfectly square, measure the diagonals of the square that you have just created. The distance measured from the back outside corner of first to the back outside corner of third should be the same as the measurement from the apex of home plate to the exact center of second base.

  4. The next step after locating home plate and the three bases is to locate the pitching mound. The center of the mound is again located on the centerline of the field at a set distance from home plate that is dictated by the rules of the league that uses the field. This distance is always measured from the apex of the white portion of home plate towards second base. The black outside edging on the plate is not actually part of the plate and is not included when measuring.

  5. Finally, locate where the foul poles and the outfield foul lines should be located, it is best to use the geometric formula for a right angle (A2+B2=C2). To find the left field foul line, let A equal the distance between second and third base. Let B equal the distance you want the foul line to extend past third base to the foul pole. Square each of these two numbers. Add them together. The take the square root of the sum of the two numbers to come up with the length C, or the hypotenuse. Once you have A, B, and C, you can then go to work in the field triangulating the location of your foul pole.

    Place a stake at the back corner of third base. Place another stake in the exact center of second base (if you have been following this guide, these stakes should already be set). Extend a 300’ measuring tape from each of the stakes towards the left field foul pole. The tape that is running from the third base stake should be extended out to the distance of B in the above calculation. The other tape should be extended out from second base to the distance C. This distance, known as the hypotenuse, is the longest side of the right triangle that you formed between second base, third base, and the left field foul pole.

    Pull the two measuring tapes towards each other until they intersect at the appropriate distances, B and C. Place a stake or marker of some type at this location to mark the left field corner. Repeat this process using first base, second base, and the right field corner to locate the right field foul pole.

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