Friday, July 2, 2010

Playing the Field

Last week I identified a gap in my baseball knowledge... regulation field size.

By this point in the season, I have watched enough Sox games (all of them to be exact) to realize that batters can "hit" a certain park well. I am guessing this means that the dimensions of each park differ. I would also wager that the bases are the same distance apart, so perhaps the difference is in the length and maybe the width (?) of the outfield.
After that, my only experience with field size does not come from any baseball regulations book. Did you ever play wiffle ball in some kids back yard? Unless the kid's father was banking on their son making the majors and provided the kid with actual bases, you had two options. The first was for four kids to volunteer the jacket off your back to throw on the ground in a rough approximation of a diamond. This option left you cold and possibly in trouble with your mother for dirtying your jacket. The second option was to use whatever trees, bushes and lawn decor adorned the lawn, which often resulted in a rather funny shaped base path.

That doesn't answer my question though. It's simply a fun memory. In this case, only wikipedia can help. Here is Mr. Wiki's diagram:

See the note at the top? The distance from home plate to the fence can differ by 45 feet measuring from the plate to center field. So if you think about it like a triangle, even though the back fence is rounded (is it?), the width of the field would differ too.

I guess that means that a player could field a park well(?).

Ah, bluehats. Just when I think I am starting to get it, you throw something else at me. I now have to research the differences in outfield shapes between Fenway and other parks, the size of homeplate and the bases, the purpose of having two on-deck circles, what occurs in the coaches boxes, the rules about where the pitcher stands when he throws, the dimensions of "the strike zone" (whatever that is), and on an on.

And those are just the questions I have from looking at the diagram. What else will I need to know after watching the actual game against the Baltimore Orioles tonight?


  1. Alli,
    the green monster is so tall because it is so close to home plate. it most have been a space saver. maybe in a location not as cramped as Fenway (the neighborhood) they would have put the left field wall a bit further and made it a more "standard height". with that said all parks are the same as far as the bases and mound but the shape of the outfield wall, the heights of the walls and even the materials the wall is made out of vary (a lot). i think it is one of the great things about seeing games at different parks.

    you may have heard of pitchers ball parks or hitters ball parks. this has to do with the size of the out field as well. pitcher's parks usually have larger outfields (less home runs, Coors Field) and hitters parks may have a spot that is easier to hit a home run (yankee stadium's "short porch" in left).

    the pitcher has to have a foot on the rubber when he makes his delivery. it is more complicated than that i am sure and even the delivery itself has rules (look up rules about Balks).

    the size of the field is not the only thing that effects the fielders ability to field the ball. grass (or turf) varies as well. Sometimes the ground crew will even let the grass grow a little bit for a home pitcher that will throw a lot of pitches that induce ground balls. this will slow the ball down just a bit and give the fielder a bit more time. an opposing ground ball pitcher may get extra short grass. obviously they can't do this for every game because you need to let the grass grow which takes time but it is done....astro turf (which doesn't grow) "plays" much much faster than grass....and on and on and on, like you said.


  2. also...
    love the site this came from and may help you quickly see the shapes of the outfields at all the parks: