When the Pirates begin their 2009 home season, a brand spanking new playing surface will be underfoot when the players take the field, according to the latest Buc news flash.
The project consists of completely replacing all the grass, dirt, and track, even though the surface was redone just three years ago, before the 2006 All-Star Game. Could it be that they think Jimmy Hoffa is pushin' up the outfield blades?
The new grass will be made up of a mix of four different kinds of Kentucky Bluegrass. It was chosen because it's supposedly ideal for northern climates. Now Dirt Dog Doug can be covered with blue grass stains instead of green.
The turf was hand-picked by Pirates director of field operations Manny Lopez and field maintenance supervisor Derek Hurlburt from a sod farm in New Jersey after visiting several grass gardens in the Northeast and Midwest. We hope they scout players just as thoroughly as they checked out the new greenery.
The infield will be replaced by a darker dirt called Dura Edge All-Star Infield Mix. The mix is a blend of several different kinds of dirt. GW never knew that you could tell one kind of dirt from another, but we'll take their word for it.
"The new infield mix is coming to us from a company in Slippery Rock called Natural Sand Company," said Lopez. "This mixture has been created exclusively for PNC Park, so it will be unlike any other infield surface in Major League Baseball." So we'll have Pittsburgh dirt. It sounds like a new blog.
Finally, the warning and foul line track will be replaced with crushed lava rock. Seems kinda ouchy to us.
According to Frank Coonelly, the new design of the infield will include unique baselines, with first base, third base, and home plate cutouts, to spiff up the diamond. Maybe the batter's box will be shaped like Bob Nutting's profile - or checkbook.
Keeping with their "Let's Go Bucs, Let's Go Green" campaign, the Pirates are working hand-in-hand with the City's Public Works Department so that the old field surface doesn't go to waste.
The city will recycle the PNC dirt and sod by using it at different ballyards and parks which are in need of field maintenance, and that should be just about all of them. Hey, at least the local little leagues will get something out of it.
Our nagging question is why now? Most fields hold up fine for 5 or 6 years. The Buc suits say it's so they can have the coolest park in baseball, but GW would rather see the money spent on a new infielder instead of a new infield.
Oh well, we'll take what we can get. After all, maybe the Pirates decided to rebuild literally from the ground-up.
>BTW, the Game 7 Gang's blowout Monday was a rousing success, drawing some 500 people, including Bob Friend, Dick Groat, Elroy Face, Nellie King and Frank Thomas. Buc prez Frank Coonelly was there, too. The Post-Gazette's Brian O'Neill talked to some of the crowd in his piece Once Upon A Time.