The difference between a win and a loss in baseball could depend on the quality of the field the game is being played on. One bad hop, and that winning run might score in the bottom of the seventh.
Then again, the quality of a field may depend on the number of wins and losses of the team that calls that field home. Winning teams will spark more interest in their program, leading to more donations and the flexibility to build a new field.
But that’s not always the case, as shown at Greenfield High School.
Greenfield was able to raise enough money to build a new field. Though this past year was one of the Hustlin’ Hawks’ best in a while (18-14), the team has struggled – and yet, the squad was able to build a new field after a 6-30 season in 2008.
After conducting a survey of area varsity baseball coaches about area baseball fields, the Hustlin’ Hawks new Bob Wieland Field, although only rated by two coaches, carried the highest marks in the area.
Head coach Lee Kleszczynski agreed that it was a great new field and praised administration for their efforts.
“(They) did a great job of making it a baseball only field,” Kleszczynski said. “We got a fence that keeps it all inclusive, so when it’s time to do ground rules, you don’t have any problems with it. The ground rules are real simple … We haven’t had a home field for three years, so it’s nice to have a home field.”
Coaches were asked to rate area fields on a five-star scale in 12 different categories: dugouts, infield quality, infield dirt, batters boxes, outfield fence, outfield grass, outfield quality, pitcher’s mound, scoreboard, seating area, angle of field (sun effects), and foul territory. Each coach in the NOW Newspaper coverage area was sent the survey via email.
Greenfield’s two ratings brought back an overall 4.38 rating, with all aspects rated 4 or above.
Germantown, with an overall rating of 3.95, was one of the other top fields in the area -- a survey that did not include college fields that some teams called home. Germantown head coach Jeff Wolf said everyone contributes to keeping the field as one of the top in the area.
“The players are very helpful,” Wolf said. “We make sure after every practice and every game, we rake in the holes by the pitchers mound and home plate and in the bases. The players realize that it’s a pretty special field ... (they) do it with a little pride because they know we have a nice field.
“We do get help from the maintenance department, who chalk it and line it and cut the grass. They do a great job as well.”
Germantown also has a relatively new field, built in the late-90s.
Wolf said as an assistant at Nicolet for 18 years, he enjoyed playing at Germantown every year.
“It was always a treat to play at Germantown because of the facility,” Wolf said. “That was one of the many reasons I was attracted to the head coaching position when it opened up.”
Germantown’s scoreboard was the lowest-rated aspect from the eight responses it received with a 3.25 rating. The infield dirt and the seating area were the highest rated at a 4.25. One coach commented that Germantown’s field was “consistently well-maintained,” and another called it the “best in area.”
“It means a lot,” Wolf said in regards to having one of the top rated fields in the area. “You really get excited. The kids (get excited) to go to practice and to play games.”
Each coach has favorite parts of their home field. Kleszczynski said he really enjoys the foul territory size at his home ballpark, where a bad throw or wild pitch will hurt the defense, unlike some parks that have little to no foul territory.
“Throws that are past the first baseman, sometimes you don’t get that extra base, whereas at our field, they’re going to give up that extra base,” Kleszczynski said. “That plays true baseball.”
Wolf thoroughly enjoys the infield at Germantown, which received a 4.13 rating for quality from other coaches and a 4.25 rating for the dirt. Wolf admitted that may be because he was an infielder, and when he hits grounders in pregame warm-ups, he likes to see the ball take true hops.
Wolf said he would like to significantly upgrade the scoreboard in the next three years.
Work at Bob Wieland Field is already under way for next year, as administration has started reseeding areas of grass that have suffered through this unusually hot and dry summer, Kleszczynski said.
When Kleszczynski and Wolf were asked what other fields they enjoy playing at this season,, they each had quick responses.
“The field I really liked playing at and how they take care of their field is South Milwaukee,” Kleszczynski said. “I think (they) do a great job of taking care of their field and have a great grounds crew. They’ve got some great dimensions; their fences are pretty deep.”
“The one I definitely would want to play at would be West Bend,” Wolf said. “They have an unbelievable park. It’s always maintained and in excellent condition. It’s just a real neat place to play and they’re always a good team so you’re always motivated to play there anyways.”
Each coach needed more thought to arrive at a field they didn’t like.
“I guess St. Francis, who plays at Greene Park,” Kleszczynski said. “That’s a bit of a challenge. The dugouts aren’t really away from the spectators. You want that dugout separated so the players have their minds on the ballgame.”
“My least favorite is Kewauskum,” Wolf said. “It’s a little different with an all dirt infield. (In) some ways, it’s kind of neat, just different than what our players are used to.”
Each field was rated on a five-star scale on 12 aspects by as many as 12 coaches in the NOW Newspapers coverage area. Surveys were sent to all baseball coaches in the coverage zone.
Name of field (Home Team): Overall rating
1. Greenfield High School: 4.38*
2. MATC South (Marquette University High School): 4.02**
3. Germantown High School: 3.95
4. WCTC (Pewaukee): 3.92**
5. Muskego High School: 3.59
6. Trenary Field (Menomonee Falls): 3.55
6. New Berlin West: 3.55
8. Sussex Hamilton High School: 3.51
9. Cedarburg High School: 3.45
10. Abendschein Park (Oak Creek): 3.39
11. McCoy Field (Brookfield Central): 3.22
12. South Milwaukee High School: 3.17
13. Henry Aaron Field (Shorewood): 2.96**
14. New Berlin Eisenhower High School: 2.95
15. Franklin High School: 2.81
16. Rennicke Field (Homestead): 2.71
17. Belich Field (West Allis Hale/Central): 2.69
18. Whitnall High School: 2.67
19. Breitlow Field (Wauwatosa East/West): 2.58
20. Brown Deer High School: 2.5
21. Brookfield East High School: 2.46
22. Cahill Park (Whitefish Bay): 2.41
23. Sheridan Park (Cudahy): 2.34
24. Stormonth Field (Nicolet): 2.24
25. St. Thomas More High School: 2.12
25. Greendale High School: 2.12
27. Greene Park (St. Francis): 1.49
*-Only two coaches rated this field
**-also used by area college teams
*-not including college fields, Greenfield High School or Germantown High School
Dugouts: Sussex Hamilton (4.25)
Infield quality: New Berlin West (3.88)
Infield dirt: Muskego High School (3.67)
Batter’s boxes: New Berlin West (3.75)
Outfield Fence: Trenary Field (3.88)
Outfield Grass: Sussex Hamilton (3.63)
Outfield quality (slopes, etc): Sussex Hamilton (3.88)
Pitchers Mound: Abendschein Park, New Berlin West (3.63)
Scoreboard: Franklin High School (4.11)
Seating area: Trenary Field (4.13)
Angle of field (sun): Muskego (3.78)
Foul territory: Trenary Field (4.13)
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