Preparing ballfields for use in Central Park

The News Leader

April 1, 2010 3:36:00 PM PDT
It's a gorgeous Thursday, but we had to endure a brutal winter to get to this point. The ballfields at central park definitely took a beating, but they will be in perfect shape for opening day.

Long before the umpire yells "Play Ball," it takes days and weeks of manpower to get the ballfields in their best shape for another season.

"If you want to play, this is the place to play," says Bobby Brady.

At 68 years old, Brady maintains his good health playing nearly five decades on the Heckscher Ballfields. He says the manicured fields, which have been groomed since opening in 1936, have the magical power to relieve stress.

"You go out there and you just leave it there," he said. "You're a kid again."

Opening day is set for April 10. Over the spring and summer season, thousands are expected to put on cleats and grind up the ground over and over again.

"Everyone wants to be Mickey Mantle, so they want to dig in there. It's our job to come back and repair these areas," said Russell Fredericks, Chief of Operation of the Central Park Coservency.

Wicked winter weather also took its toll on the fields of dreams, but with legions of teams set to take to the diamonds, a complete cleaning is mandatory. Especially when the line up features Broadway show leagues, Weekend Warriors and even a team from Channel 7.

Teams must be approved by the city to use the ballfields, however there is no shortage of supporters who say opening day strikes a cord in their hearts, because there's no turning back from the momentum of spring and baseball entertainment for free.