The Backyard Base Path (part 2)

When Jacob asked me if I could teach him to slide, I thought of an idea I had for my baseball resort: a base path with a base at one end and a home plate at the other so people could practice sliding and baserunning without taking up a whole diamond. I typed up a proposal for it and emailed it to Sandy after I mentioned the idea to her earlier this week and she seemed to like it.

She read my proposal before I got to her office Thursday afternoon.

“I talked to Maya about it yesterday already,” she said, “and she likes the idea. She thinks it would make a great segment for the show, building a piece of a baseball field in the backyard. There’s an area behind the pool house that you can’t see from the main house, Maya was thinking we could put it there. The pool house is practically your office anyway,” she said with a laugh.

I knew the area she meant. For the moment it was planted with grass and some uglyass flowers that were attracting a shit ton of flies, but it looked about the right size and it’s fairly flat, unlike a lot of the yard which is kinda hilly.

“We’ve been meaning to pull out the flowers because of the flies anyway,” Sandy said. “Maya’s already on it. She’s contacted Dodger Stadium, and one of their groundskeepers is going to come and help with the design. You’ll be in on it too, since it’s your idea.”

I gotta admit I was getting into it. I was especially excited about meeting one of the groundskeepers from Dodger Stadium.

“How did you get one of them to come?”

“Easy,” Sandy said. “We’re on TV. We’ll probably get the dirt – or whatever it’s called – for free too. And the gardeners can probably do the labor, based on how you described it.”

That was Thursday. I gotta admit that Maya makes things happen: before I left for home that afternoon, she came down to the gym in person to tell me that the dude from Dodger Stadium would be there the next day at 11:30 and I should be there too. She was even nice enough to say she’d pay me for my time.

She was wearing that perfume again, and looked super hot in the short dress she was wearing. Like as hot as she looked in her movies 10 or 15 years ago. She barely looked any older. I wonder if she has that effect on all men…or just on me. In any case, hell yeah I was gonna be there at 11:30 to meet a groundskeeper from an MLB stadium.

The dude – an assistant groundskeeper – turned out to be pretty awesome. His name’s Dax and he seemed real interested in the project, maybe because it meant he was gonna be on TV lol. And that was definitely gonna be the case, since Ethan and the cameraman were at the meeting too. (For social distancing we were sitting outside on the patio with chairs spread out 6’ apart.)

The way you build a baseball infield is to lay a mixture of clay, sand and silt over some ordinary dirt, making sure that there’s a slight grade to the surface to allow drainage. Basically what we designed was two circles – the slide areas – connected by a base path, with 60’ between home plate at one end and the “3rd” base on the other side. (60’ is the distance between bases in little league.) Me, Dax, Ethan and the cameras went out back of the pool house as soon as the meeting was over to

measure.

“The circles won’t be regulation size,” Dax said, rolling up his tape measure, “but you’ll just be able to get in your 60’. It’s like it was meant to be. Lucky kids,” he added. “Do they usually get everything they want like this?”

“If it‘ll look good on TV, probably, but,” I added, speaking from experience, “they’re good boys. Not spoiled at all…at least as far as I can tell.” I didn’t try and explain that growing up on TV had a lot of drawbacks too…like Matteo’s weekly weigh-ins.

The Sharpmans have the gardeners in every day – there’s always something for them to do, and that’s why the place looks so awesome. The head gardener’s name is Pancho, and he’s a big baseball fan. We’ve had some talks about the Dodgers. Me, Dax and him had a meeting on Monday (all these meetings are making me feel important) about the mini-field, and Pancho is sure he and his guys can do whatever we need them to do. (He also said he was glad to be able to get rid of the fly bushes.) Pancho said it’d be no sweat getting the sprinklers moved around so the dirt can get watered regularly (if the clay in baseball dirt dries out, it’s useless.) He even said they’d put in fresh turf around our project so it would look just like a real ball field, only in miniature. He was totally getting what I was after. Pancho’s appeared on At Home with Maya a few times, so the audience knows him, and him and his guys aren’t gonna mind working with the cameras watching.

Dax told me that the dirt they use at Dodger Stadium comes from various places in Southern California and is a closely guarded trade secret. It also takes intense daily maintenance – you don’t see it on TV but they even have to drag the infield with mats between innings – so we’re not gonna be using any of that. He did tell us that the best place to get infield mix in Southern California is in Riverside County and is called Terra Cotta Brick & Clay. They mostly manufacture bricks, but they have a sideline in baseball dirt because the owners are huge fans and even have a son playing in the minors.

Sandy was in charge of contacting them, and – she wasn’t surprised – they were all too happy to give us all the dirt we needed in exchange for being featured on the show. One thing I’ve learned about being on reality TV: you get a lot of free shit lol.

“Guess what?,” Sandy asked me Monday after she called me into her office before I got started with Jacob. “Hashtag Baseball Boy’s going on a business trip.”

“A what?”

“A business trip. A trip. For business.”

“Me? But I’m just…”

“You’re the resident expert on baseball dirt, and this field of dreams is your baby. Dax can’t go, since he’s got his real job, so it’s gonna be you in charge of the segment. Ethan and a crew’ll be going with you and you’ll do the on camera interview.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You. The boyfriend of half our audience.”

“But I’ve never interviewed anyone on camera. I don’t know the first thing about it. Truth be told, ma’am, I don’t know the first thing about being on camera when we’re filming the show here…”

“And that’s been enough to have half the audience fall in love with you. Don’t make me repeat how gorgeous you are or you’re gonna get a swelled head.” Ok…I didn’t know that Sandy thought I was ‘gorgeous’, even if we do flirt with each other. Don’t forget that she’s pretty dang gorgeous too. “You’ll be more than fine. Ethan will get together with you and plan out what you’re going to ask. Just be natural and make sure all your questions aren’t too technical. You may be surprised, but you’re as close as a lot of our viewers have ever come to baseball.

“I know you have your other pupils on Wednesday, so I arranged it for Thursday. We’ll have you leave first thing in the morning, so you should be back in time to work with the boys. And if you’re back late, they’ll just have to – is ‘take one for the team’ the expression?”

“Yes, ma’am. And I don’t think it’ll bother Matteo none if I have to cut his workout short.”

“Dax also sent you a present,” Sandy then said.

I couldn’t figure out what it might be, but it was kind of exciting thinking I was getting something from Dodger Stadium.

“Don’t get too excited – it’s a tupperware of what he said I should tell you was infield dirt from Dodger Stadium. He said it might interest viewers to see the differences between major league dirt and the kind of dirt you’re getting over wherever it is Terra Cotta Bricks and Clay is located.”

“Dax said it’s in Riverside County,” I said, adding: “not that I’m sure where Riverside County is.” I guess I’ll need to find that out.

Truth be told, I was excited about the Dodger Stadium dirt.

“Dax said he’d have liked to bring you to Dodger Stadium to do a segment there…but you can blame COVID for that not happening.”

Dang. That really did suck. Getting to be on the field at Dodger Stadium would have been totally awesome. On the other hand, now I know someone who works at Dodger Stadium. Maybe later on, after COVID, he’ll be able to show me around or something.

In the meantime, I had my business trip out to Riverside County to think about.

“No basketball shorts on this segment,” Sandy warned me.

Did she think I was raised in a barn? Actually, given what some Yankees think about the South, maybe she thought I was.

“Don’t worry, ma’am,” I said, “I used to work at the Gap. I can sell you khakis if you want.”

“Good,” she said. “Khakis and a button-down shirt will look nice. Don’t forget your mask…and bring a Dodger hat, just in case Ethan thinks you should have one on to make you look more basebally.”

“I’ll wear a blue shirt just in case he wants the hat.”

“With your eyes? Of course you will,” said Sandy.

I really didn’t know how to answer that, so I just smiled and went to join Jacob who was waiting for me outside.

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