January 25, 2010
Going Yard, Big League Style
A new line of seeds allows fans to simulate the ballpark experience at home
When Roger Baird became Wrigley Field's head groundskeeper in the mid-1990s, not all of the Cubs' infielders were blessed with Ozzie Smith--like range, so the coaching staff asked for some help. Baird's solution was to let the grass grow a little longer in front of the weaker defenders, to slow ground balls. "A normal person probably couldn't tell," Baird says.
Normal people, however, now are one step closer to replicating the lush conditions found in professional ballparks. Major League Baseball has teamed with the lawn-care company Scotts for a multiyear partnership that will include the licensing of major league grass seed. Beginning in late March, fans will be able to purchase near identical copies of the Kentucky Bluegrass and perennial ryegrass seed used in Boston's Fenway Park, Chicago's Wrigley Field, Cincinnati's Great American Ballpark
, Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Park and St. Louis's Busch Stadium, with more parks to be added. (The cost for a three-pound bag: $21.99.) For now each park's grass seed will only be sold in the team's region.
Understanding that only the most avid backyard Wiffle ball players will maintain the close-cropped major league standards, Scotts has given the retail versions slightly different blends to minimize care. Says Red Sox head groundskeeper David Mellor, "It's a great opportunity for homeowners to have their own field of dreams."