For coaches and ballpark managers across the country, Sportsfield Specialties Inc.’s new Solid Surface Batter’s Eye could not have come sooner. In fact, Kevin DeVantier, Director of Sales for Sportsfield’s direct division, said during his tenure, he has had conversations with numerous clients frustrated by material failures from traditional windscreen-style batter’s eyes.
“For this application, the windscreen can wrinkle and tear, which requires ongoing maintenance. The material usually has to be replaced every couple years,” DeVantier said. “Facilities managers are looking for something more durable that also looks great.”
Because a batter’s eye takes up significant real estate in the outfield, looks are important. Standard eyes start at approximately 20’ high by 40’ wide and are used to create a contrasting backdrop on baseball and softball fields so hitters can clearly see approaching pitches. “When there is an industry-wide concern about the function and aesthetic of field equipment, we try to improve the standard,” said Gregg Semenetz, Southeast Regional Sales Manager for Sportsfield Specialties Direct.
In fact, much of Sportsfield’s success comes from its innovative spirit and turnkey approach to problem solving. With a team of sales representatives and in-house engineers; a state-of-art manufacturing facility; and a network of regional installers, Sportsfield was able to develop a new and improved batter’s eye design efficiently.
According to Jeff Longwell, Engineering Manager at Sportsfield, the Solid Surface Batter’s Eye façade is constructed with 1 or 3-foot-wide galvanized steel panels (height to specifications), which are placed flush against steel columns and affixed to steel girts. The girts, Longwell explained, provide lateral support for the panels to resist wind loads, similar to prefab metal building construction. The panels are also attached to the girts between the columns on the rear of the structure to prevent wind loading on panels away from the structure. “The batter’s eye is engineered to meet the requirements of ASCE 7,” he said. Additionally, to minimize reflective glare, the steel panels are powder coated with a matte finish.
“We took customer concerns into account when designing the Solid Surface Batter’s Eye and the results are game-changing” said DeVantier. He added that facilities managers can reference two recently installed systems at MiLB’s Louisville Slugger Field and at the University of Pittsburgh. Louisville’s batter’s eye is a standard 30’ x 60’ model retrofitted to existing columns, while Pittsburgh’s is a custom 28’ x 40’ unit with a fully paneled back side and 1’ steel panel framing to hide exposed hardware. Both treatments give the Pitt batter’s eye a finished look from all vantage points.
For the team at Sportsfield, the new design and completion of Louisville and Pittsburgh’s new Solid Surface Batter’s Eyes is a dream come true. “This innovation stands out,” said Gregg Semenetz who added that he has already received several inquiries about the product from minor league ballparks and universities. “We’re really excited about the new design and so are facilities managers,” he concluded.