baseball checkerboard

This is in response to “Why do baseball fields have a checkerboard pattern in the outfield grass?” from May 10, 1996.

You answered the question posed by Justin Gaynor of Dallas, but you didn’t answer the question YOU posed…“Why…”

Now, I’m not a baseball player, but I have a theory. I would assume that, with the outfield as big as it is, the checkerboard grass gives the players some sort of comprehensible area to run around chasing balls in. If it was a single color/texture, the outfield players may find themselves a little dizzy trying to make sense of the actual playing area size. With this “grid” with squares of a defined size, timing your fielding runs, judging distances and marking your territory are a lot less painful. No need to suffer from Horizontal Vertigo during a day at the Park!


The article in question is here.
Yes, he did answer “why?”

That’s it: it looks cool. A baseball field isn’t that huge, and baseball players are some of the least likely people in the world to get disoriented; the sense of where you are and where everything else is is paramount in the sport.

Besides, marking your territory isn’t painful unless you’ve been eating too much citric acid.

albatross, do all baseball fields have checkerboard outfields, or only some of them? Any fields use Astroturf? Do all groundskeepers have the same 82 in riding mowers, and specifically align the checkerboards the same way? I would think that if one field used 82 in squares aligned along the first and third base lines and a second used 78 in squares aligned diagonally across the field, that might confuse players if the purpose was your theory.

Besides, I doubt ballplayers are paying that close attention to the grass. They’re busy looking at the ball.

Every field has a different outfield pattern, and afficionados can recognize the stadium by the pattern. It’s sort of a matter of artistic pride.

There are some that use artificial turf, but even there, there are recognizable and intentional differences, though I’m not sure so much what form they take.

And it might confuse players, but if so, it would confuse the visitors more than the home team, which would be seen as desirable.

Yeah, during the World Series, the Bank One Ballpark outfield had the Arizona state flag mowed into it. A similar design was mowed into the outfield of Miller Park in Milwaukee for the All-Star Game. Recently, the number “9” was mowed into the outfield of Boston’s Fenway Park to honor the late Ted Williams.

Welcome to the SDMB, albatross37, and thank you for posting your comment.
Please include a link to Cecil’s column if it’s on the straight dope web site.
To include a link, it can be as simple as including the web page location in your post (make sure there is a space before and after the text of the URL).

Cecil’s column can be found on-line at the link provided by Nametag.

moderator, «Comments on Cecil’s Columns»

I think it had the Diamondbacks logo mowed into it. I might be wrong.

Also, I think the Bo Soxs have a pair of socks (a la, their logo) mowed into the infield. They did the last time I saw them on TV.


The patterns change as the grass grows and more mowing is needed.

I think a checkerboard is the most common pattern because it’s fairly easy to do. You can do that with a push mower.

oi, talk about getting burned online.

welp, in all honesty i thought there was more to it than “it just looks good”. but, i suppose that is a good enough reason. cheers.