b2ap3_thumbnail_Badge_Michael-A-160_20140520-163428_1.jpgDear Spanish Fork City:

My name is Michael Leavitt and I had the privilege of umpiring six baseball games on your Kiwanis Field yesterday on May 23, 2014. The Kiwanis Field is located in the beautiful Swenson Baseball Sports Complex in the south portion of the city. My responsibilities were by assignment as part of the big 3-day Memorial Day weekend tournament with the Rocky Mountain School of Baseball.

COMPLAINT: The Kiwanis infield is in such poor condition that it is a hazard for young baseball players to safely play the game.  The grass and dirt infield is so unlevel/uneven that any ground ball hit will bounce and ricochet in unexpected directions causing bodily injury to the young players. It should be noted that this is a small field with just 60 foot bases. This is generally reserved for players 10 years and younger, and the last thing they need is a field that unexpectedly shoots a line drive up into their faces and torso.

EVIDENCES: In the six games yesterday on that field I witnessed at least 7 injuries, with two being to the face from unexpected ball bounces. There was no blood, but this morning there are certainly some bruises of both body and faces. The most violent found a shortstop charging the ball and it bounced up and he was struck on the eye socket as the ball glanced up and tore off his baseball cap. We were all lucky that his head turned in such a way that it was not a direct hit. I gasped, along with the crowd, as I yelled "Time" immediately to make sure that he was okay. We all dodged a bullet, because when major injuries happen, then the lawyers include the owner of the field, the sponsoring association hosting the event, and even the umpires in the lawsuit to recover damages.

LIABILITY: The condition of the infield is a high liability for the City of Spanish Fork, as a major concussion, broken wrist, or permanent facial damage will surely result in an expensive lawsuit against the City.

RECOMMENDATION: Funds should be allocated to completely replace the infield. Albeit expensive, we have to value the health of the young players who play on that field.

PRIORITY: HIGH RISK - It is obvious that this infield has not seen major work in over a decade. This is more than just the need for better mowing, better raking, etc.. Instead, we are talking about removal of the grass, regrading the infield, and then restoring the grass and dirt areas to provide a smooth surface for hot balls to bounce evenly.

NOTE: This is not the fault of groundskeepers not properly prepping the field for this game.  This is just what happens to a field over long periods of time.

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IN SUMMARY: I feel that upgrading the infield of the Kiwanis Field will enhance the Swenson Complex, make a safer environment for the young ballplayers, and become a crown jewel to the complex as it is the very first field you see up close as you enter the sports complex.

Respectfully,

Michael Leavitt - Umpire