Clemens Field was going green Wednesday as its brown surface was being covered with grass sod.


Clemens Field was going green Wednesday as its brown surface was being covered with grass sod.
The anticipated two-day installation, which started around 9 a.m., was progressing smoothly, according to Jack Grubbs, who along with his brother, Alan, co-own the Wentzville-based Double Image Company which is a grading, seeding and sodding contractor.
“It poses a little bit of a challenge with the sand, but they came in and leveled it. It’s nice to be able to work when everything else around is so wet,” he said.
Rainfall was predicted to begin overnight Wednesday and continue into Friday.
“That’s why we’re trying to hurry and get it done,” said Grubbs with a smile.
According to Larry Owens, co-owner of the Hannibal Cavemen who will play their Prospect League games this summer at Clemens Field, rainfall shouldn’t be a major problem.
“It doesn’t really bother us. No matter how much rain the field gets, the drainage system is in so it stays dry,” he said.
Owens says the new field was built with quick drainage in mind.
“This is a professional styled field like Chicago and Busch Stadium because it’s sand-based,” he said.
Grubbs, whose company has sodded many golf courses and ball fields in its 25-year history, gave a thumbs up to the condition of Clemens Field.
“They’ve got it prepared very well. It should be a good product,” he said.
Because the sod would be installed on a sand-based field, its preparation was handled differently.
“The roots usually go three or four inches deep. We cut the sod pretty thin because of having a sand-based field here,” said Grubbs. “They want the sod cut thin so that the water will permeate through the sod and into the sand and then into the drainage system.”
While the new field will drain well, it will require regular attention.
“A sand-based field has to be taken care of almost like a baby on life support,” said Owens. “It’s made to drain and doesn’t hold any nutrients so you’ve got to constantly be feeding this thing nutrients and water. It’s a big difference from getting a dirt field.”
The 100,000 square feet of blue grass sod was grown on a farm in Moscow Mills, and then transported by tractor-trailer to Hannibal where it was being installed by an eight-man crew.
Grubbs predicts the blue grass will do well at Clemens Field.
“It’s a good, hearty grass. It takes a lot of water and with the sprinkler system here it will work out great,” he said, adding that more ball fields are having blue grass installed. “A lot of them do any more because it’s a grass that will recover and heal itself pretty quickly from the wear and tear. The fescues don’t repair themselves as easily.”
The blue grass shouldn’t need much in the way of special conditions to get established, according to Grubbs.
“Really just a normal spring, with a little warmer temperatures and some timely rains. But with the sprinkler system here that really won’t be a factor,” he said.
Owens is pleased to see the sod being installed.

“This is good. It will let everybody know we have a ballfield and they can come down and look at it. We never had a doubt we’d make it. Some people had (doubts) ... still,” he said.
Grubbs indicated he’ll be back to check on the field, and Cavemen, this summer.

“We appreciate the opportunity to do this work and look forward to coming up and watching these guys play baseball here,” he said.
The Hannibal Cavemen are scheduled to play their first home game on June 4.