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These Ballparks Are Different, Too, if Only Because They’re So Nice

Some baseball fields are unique, and some are just plain nice. In San Diego County, most coaches agree that four stand above the rest:

Carlsbad, Granite Hills, Hilltop and Mt. Carmel.

There are two reasons.

One is that players and coaches work hard to maintain their good surroundings. After each home game, win or lose, players turn into groundskeepers and get their field back in shape.

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“At our school, when a kid makes the team, a rake and shovel come with his uniform,” Hilltop Coach John Baumgarten said.

The other reason is that on these fields, high school baseball is the only game. Other players at other schools work hard at maintainence but have trouble because the fields are used for so many other activities.

“At our field, they play soccer during the winter and one of the goals sits right at shortstop,” Chula Vista Coach Richard Barcus said. “It kind of hard to maintain things.”

All four fields have smooth grass and dirt on the infield and no clumps of grass in their outfields. They are mostly symmetrical and have plenty of good viewing areas for fans.

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At Granite Hills, they have one of the county’s nicest press boxes, complete with a public address system. Carlsbad’s field is so slick that it almost appears that the grass is artificial.

“Our pitchers especially love Carlsbad,” said Fallbrook Coach Dave Heid, whose team plays its home games in the smallest ballpark (325 feet to center field) in the county. “They look out to that 390-foot sign in center field and say, ‘Gee, Coach, I could get myself an ERA in this ballpark.’ ”

Defenders like the good parks, too. Good infield grass and smooth dirt make for fewer errors.

“We take a lot of pride in our park,” Baumgarten said. “Every year, we try to add something to it that will make it nicer and more enjoyable to play in. Our kids care, and we’re able to keep other people off of it. That’s the important thing.”

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