More suburban high schools are turning to baseball and softball turf fields, but is it a good thing?

For nearly 30 years one of the joys for Barrington softball coach Perry Peterson was regularly making sure the “Fields of Dreams” lived up to its name. Now it’s a bit different in the second year the school’s softball and baseball fields are fully turfed.

“I greatly do,” Peterson said of missing the field maintenance at the 2023 National Fastpitch Coaches Association field of the year. “When the referendum went through, the powers that be were adamant it be a turf field. I really enjoyed the daily dragging of the field and mowing of the grass … but I’m slowly enjoying what I have now.

“They’ll tell you it’s maintenance-free, but I still spend a tremendous amount of time on it.”

Peterson said that includes picking up sunflower seeds or clipping gum out of the turf because it’s a community field used by other teams. Players have to sweep dugouts differently to keep dirt from getting on the turf.

Lake Park baseball just installed a turf infield, and McHenry built a new on-campus baseball facility with a turf infield. Jeff Moeller, who won a Class 1A title at Westminster Christian in 2010, said he’s installed around 40 turfed home plate areas for high schools through his Hampshire-based business, “It Starts with the Turf” at a cost of around $7,500. Moeller has also done a few turf mound installations.

Willowbrook baseball coach Vic Wisner believes most schools will be playing on turf within the next five years.

“People ask, ‘Don’t you want turf,’ and I say no,” said Grayslake Central baseball coach Troy Whalen. “I’m old-school.”

Glenbard South softball coach Julie Fonda belongs to that same class.

“I hate turf in softball, and it changes the game tremendously,” she said. “I’m really, really against it. I feel the game was meant to be played on dirt.”

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.