IONE — On average, 70% of a baseball game is played on the infield dirt and sometime in the ’90s, fields started to use science to improve play.
“People figured out what worked and what didn’t and pulled numbers. And figured out, ‘Hey, this is a better product or we can make a better product for this type of use,'” Chris Shastid, head groundskeeper at Raley Field, told FOX40.
What many big league and minor league ballparks prefer these days is a component called laterite that the U.S. Mine Corporation in Ione produces in extremely large quantities.
“Not only for the iron-rich color, the iron is what gives it the redness to it, and then it also has some properties to it that allow for predictability, slide-ability and no ball-hop,” U.S. Mine spokesman David Harvey said.
This is exactly where many big-league parks find the red dirt they use on their infield — 250 feet down from the earth’s surface. It’s over 200 million years old.
“The fact that they’re walking on material and playing on material that literally is dinosaur-age material,” Harvey said. “You might have each individual ballpark, their groundskeeper, you know, they like to put their own little touch on it. So we don’t always know where this material goes but we do know that it’s a primary component to what they call an ‘infield ball mix.'”