The shame of Pittsburgh’s local baseball fields

The Dirty Birds should count ourselves fortunate that, for about the first 15 games, we had few delays or cancellations. We even played a full game (and won) after a Saturday morning snowstorm in April.

And then June happened. Specifically, from the night of June 14, when we tried to play through a lightning storm and were a few outs shy of beating the Apache when the rain kept coming and the entire game was wiped out. We’ll try to play it over on Wednesday, but after last night one cannot be too confident.

In the 30 days between June 14 and July 14, getting games in with any consistency proved impossible. Our remaining three games against AAA teams have been postponed (some more than once) and likely won’t get played.

That makes what happened last night all the more frustrating. It was the bottom of the first, with the plucky Bombers rallying to go up 1-0 and threatening for more with men on first and second with no outs. The rain was actually going to leave us alone for once.

And then, this:

Spring Hill lights off

Darkness. After the Bombers got in touch with the city and we waited 20 minutes to see if they would come back on, one of the umpires walked over to our team and called the game. He said a breaker had blown. Show’s over. (Although he and his partner got to keep their money for showing up. Neat.)

These things happen. Lights go out. Breakers blow. Rain falls. But you don’t have to claim Springview Field or any of the other NABA spots as your home to see how much effort local government fails to put into maintaining the majority of these places. Before the game, a few of our guys worked with a local Little League coach (holding an evening practice there) to dig out a big piece of stone from a few inches behind home plate. You can see a complete hands-off approach in a neighborhood park that has been sadly neglected. The Ducks experienced this nonsense earlier this year with their home field.

This doesn’t even compare to what the Borough of Whitaker and Steel Valley School District allowed to happen at Whitaker Field in the past month. Since our last game there on May 16 (yes, almost two months ago), the maintenance crew has allowed the place to languish to the point that grass, weeds and mud completely took over the infield. Doesn’t look like they bothered to drag it once.

Whitaker Field overgrown

Whitaker Field mud

Sweet tire tracks.

Whitaker Field mud 2

See the tents in the back of the first photo? At least they had themselves a good time Saturday. Maybe they’ll save some of that cash for the actual field.

Add to this the insult of having our field maintenance equipment stolen from a locked storage unit next to the field at some point in the past six weeks.

We almost certainly won’t play another game there this season, with our hard-earned home field advantage and first-round bye now going to some other field when playoffs start this weekend.

Maybe Munhall will let us play at West Field with its fancy renovations next season for something less than the down payment on a new car, but somehow that seems doubtful.

West Field Munhall Pa

Times are tough. Baseball participation is way down — everywhere. But we could at least protect what we have, Pittsburgh.

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4 thoughts on “The shame of Pittsburgh’s local baseball fields

  1. Solid piece. A big ssue of mine is that PSL gets to play slow ptch on all the 90×90 fields with mounds and destroy them and leave the dugouts full of beer cans while we are scrambling for time slots. Let them play on the myriad of mound-less softball fields around. PSL is bullshit. The city doesn’t care about field maintenance as long as the fields in affluent neighborhoods are well groomed for the pony league and little league teams. The people in charge of the youth leagues in the city are generally shady about letting anyone use their fields, even though they go unused a lot of the time. And fuck all this rain. Good luck in the playoffs. Quack.

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  2. I can think of only one noticable improvement to any of the city fields in five years of playing in the NABA, and that is “fixing” the lights at Moore a year or two ago. Other than that, the changes have been minimal (i.e. fixing the wooden backstop at Srping View so that passed balls do not sound like gunshots). PSL makes a ton of money…their revenues were almost $900k in 2013 and their profit was over $170,000. The players treat these fields like crap, and I’m going to go out on a limb and suspect PSL and PUMP do not put a dime into the city fields despite pulling in six figure profits. But at the end of the day, I love baseball and if that means losing fly balls in the darkness and risking black eyes on ground balls then so be it.

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