Not every kid gets a chance to play on a major league field, but that doesn’t mean the big leagues can’t share their wealth. In the spring, local Little Leaguers will benefit from some help delivered by the San Francisco Giants.
Last month, Half Moon Bay Little League board members arranged a special delivery. On Dec. 17, trucks loaded with infield dirt from Oracle Park made their way to Smith Field. They then unloaded new dirt onto the fields.
Corey Gunning and Craig Gerbi, both local Little League volunteers and coaches, helped make it happen.
Gerbi has been involved with the league for the past seven years, both as a volunteer coach and manager for teams in AAA, Minors, Majors and All Stars. His connection with Greg Elliot, the head groundskeeper of the San Francisco Giants, made it all possible. Both Gerbi’s 12-year-old son and Elliot’s son play for the San Francisco Seagulls travel ball team. When they met last spring season, Gerbi and Gunning consulted Elliot on the state of Smith Field, looking for better ways to maintain and improve the grounds.
Meanwhile, Oracle Park’s bullpen is being moved from outside the dugouts to beyond the center field wall. The Giants tend to replace the infield after every season, and Elliot wants to recycle field materials whenever possible.
The team has long been Major League Baseball’s prime example of environmental stewardship, and received the league’s annual Green Glove Award nine consecutive years, from 2008 to 2016. One aspect of that success has been managing the field, which requires lots of water.
“The next thing you know, they’re turning over their infield mix to make room for some new stuff,” Gerbi said. “So, it was like the match made in heaven.”
Part of the infield dirt was donated to San Bruno Park, where the Seagulls play. Another patch made its way to Half Moon Bay. It was a win-win, as Elliot demonstrated how to recycle material and Little League saved thousands of dollars in its effort to resurface all the fields.
Currently, the material is still on the fields, gradually being mixed, leveled and compacted into existing dirt.
Registration is open for the upcoming season at hmbbaseball.org. Everyone involved says the fields should be ready when it kicks off March 1.
“That’s what we were in need of, infield mix for our fields,” Gerbi said. “Getting it a little more regulated with some clay, so it’s a little softer mix and sticks around during our windy afternoons.”