Matthew Mister

Babe Ruth once remarked that Yale’s baseball field was one of the best playing surfaces he had ever seen. But today, 70 years of wear and tear has left the field in sore need of repairs. In response, the Yale athletics department has made the momentous decision to install turf on both the baseball and DeWitt Family softball fields.

Yale will now be the fifth Ivy League team to make the transition to turf for these fields. The advantages of such a move include greater resistance to inclement weather, as well as a reduced number of rain cancellations in the teams’ already-short two-month seasons. Both teams expect these renovations to positively affect their programs.

“I, like the rest of my teammates, am very excited for the field to be turfed,” baseball captain Tom Ruddy ’18 said. “It should enhance both our level of play and our ability to practice even when weather conditions are not ideal. Adding turf will make Yale have one of the best baseball facilities in the Ivy League, and will definitely help with the recruiting of potential players to the program.”

Yale has contracted the company FieldTurf to oversee the installation, and the projects for both fields remain on schedule for the beginning of the spring season. Yale is replacing the soil with an infill mixture of sand and virgin rubber, which will allow the fields to drain up to 10” of rain an hour.

Additional improvements to Yale Field include new benches, seating and runoff systems for the dugout that will increase player comfort and prevent the dugout from flooding. Yale is also adding new perimeter fencing and updating both the home and away bullpens.

As of today, all soil has been removed from the field, and the turf has been delivered. Field Turf is now waiting for consistent 40-plus-degree days to install the field with a goal date of mid-March for project completion. Yale Field is three acres, and while normally fields of that size require a three-week installation period, FieldTurf has committed to reducing the timeline by using lighting systems to extend the workday.

“We’re all really excited about the turf field,” designated hitter Benny Wanger ’19 said. “It will be a huge asset to our team, especially during the winters in New Haven where we can sometimes have feet of snow at a time. We’ve rarely been able to really get onto an actual baseball field before we start playing games in the past — we practice on the turf football field— so we’re all really looking forward to having the finished product done.”

The DeWitt Family Field is in a similar place. Beyond the turfing, the renovation consists of a new perimeter fence that meets the NCAA requirements for a six-foot height. The current fence is only five feet. The project also involves improvements to the home and away bullpens.

The same weather requirements apply for the softball field operation; because the field is only one acre, however, installation should take just 10 days. FieldTurf has again committed to extending the workday in order to make sure the field is ready for the team’s conference opener against Harvard.

“We couldn’t be happier for the renovations to DeWitt Family Field,” softball coach Jeanette Goodwin said. “Although the surface we had previously was first class, the consistency we will see, regardless of the weather challenges we face in New England, will be felt immediately.”

Yale softball captain and third baseman Allison Skinner ’17 could not be reached for comment.

The University’s development website has quoted the total cost of the projects at $3 million, with the baseball field costing $2 million and the softball field $1 million.

The softball and baseball seasons begin Feb. 23.

Caleb Rhodes | caleb.rhodes@yale.edu