Does the soil on a baseball field influence the players?


By Robin Young | PREVIEW Columnist

 Baseball fans might not realize this, but the type of soil on baseball fields greatly affects how players perform.

Professional baseball fields are built from many types of soil. Beneath the athletes’ feet is a precisely engineered mixture made of multiple components. We call these materials “engineered soils.” 

Engineered soils are designed and manufactured for a specific purpose; in this case, to keep the playing surface safe and allow the game to continue during rainy weather. Engineered soils perform better than a naturally occurring soil would on its own. 

The Soil Science Society of America’s (SSSA) April 1 Soils Matter blog looks at the soil properties and how the quality of soil impacts players during a game.

There are two main areas of a baseball field: the turfgrass and the infield skin. The turfgrass draws most attention from the fans because of the beautiful geometric patterns mown by the grounds crew. However, most of the important part of baseball plays occur on the infield “skin.”

Evan Mascitti of Pennsylvania State University explained that the soil for infield skin is constructed using a blend of sand and clay. This mixture allows the players’ cleats to grab the surface without removing any soil. The idea is similar to a thumbtack being pushed into and then removed from a corkboard. Small cleat indentations mean that a ground ball will bounce true. Larger cleat marks can create bad hops, leading to a fielding error or an injury.

Mascitti and a team of soil scientists at Penn State study how different clay minerals affect the soil’s response to water. They use an air-powered lab device to simulate the action of a player’s foot. This test allows them to predict how a soil will perform in the field without the need to construct large plots or use human subjects.

To read the entire blog, please visit

The SSSA is a progressive, international scientific society that fosters the transfer of knowledge and practices to sustain global soils. Based in Madison, Wis., SSSA is the professional home for more than 6,000 members dedicated to advancing the field of soil science. It provides information about soils in relation to crop production, environmental quality, ecosystem sustainability, bioremediation, waste management, recycling and wise land use.

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May 11 — Certified seed potato will be on sale for $2 per pound. This year we will not be taking orders; it is a first-come, first-served service. Please bring your own bag or box to take your seed home. 

May 19 — Archuleta County Fair Board Dance, 7 to 10 p.m. at the Extension Exhibit Hall.

May 20 — Plant Sale/Swap and Workshop: Sowing and transplanting early crops. The workshop will run from 9 to 10 a.m., with the plant swap/sale from 10:30 a.m. to noon at the Colorado State University (CSU) Extension office. There is a $10 class fee. Visit to register. 

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