Back when he was just a Cub Scout, Randy Hammond went to watch the Kokomo Dodgers at Highland Park Stadium, dreaming of one day achieving his own athletic glory.
Hammond is part of the fabric of Kokomo’s newest foray into professional baseball more than 50 years later. A native of Walton and a graduate of Lewis Cass High School, Hammond was the first member inducted into the school’s athletic Hall of Fame.
Hammond is the central regional sales manager for Sprinturf, which will provide the athletic field turf for Kokomo Municipal Stadium, which currently is under construction in downtown Kokomo and will be the future home of a Prospect League baseball team this coming spring.
Sprinturf, which has done more than 1,000 field installations across the United States, will install 14 fields in Indiana this year, said Hammond, who works out of his home office in Kokomo.
“I was really happy to see the announcement of the new baseball team,” he said. “I can remember the old Kokomo Dodgers, who I would go watch as a Cub Scout. There’s a big baseball history in Kokomo.”
Since its beginnings in 1998, Sprinturf has constructed artificial field turf for sports at all levels, including practice fields for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles.
At Kokomo Municipal Stadium, Hammond said, the field will consist of synthetic turf with an infill of 60 percent crumb rubber and 40 percent sand. The production of the turf, which takes place in Dadeville, Alabama, will deliver artificial field in 15-foot-wide rolls that are 150-feet long.
The infill of the turf, which has become the standard for athletic fields at nearly all levels of competitive sports, will consist of crumb rubber from the equivalent of more than 30,000 recycled tires. Overall, the field will consist of about 135,000 square feet of turf, Hammond said.
With a construction manager and turf installation crew from Muncie, Hammond said Sprinturf is truly a local provider for the stadium project.
“We’re the only turf company in North America that manufactures everything in-house,” he said. “We manufacture all of our own yarn fibers and we do all of our own tufting and binding. Everything from start to finish is done in the U.S.”
Hammond primarily has overseen field projects in Indiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio, but also has done work with fields in Iowa, Minnesota and Oklahoma.
Projects Hammond has been involved with locally include work in Carmel, Evansville’s Reitz Bowl and a baseball, softball and soccer field for Purdue University Calumet.
Hammond compares the turf fans will see at Kokomo Municipal Stadium to the project done for the Normal CornBelters of the Frontier League in Normal, Illinois, which caught the attention of the project’s landscape architect Fred Prazeau of Context Landscaping.
Hammond said the synthetic turf will allow the field to drain much better than a natural turf, which will help in the event of heavy rain.
"Synthetic turf drains so much better than a natural turf field,” he said. “You don’t have the situations with rain-out games. You can have a [heavy] rain, and it’s drained out in a half an hour. It plays the same in winter, spring, summer and fall.”
Hammond expects turf installation to begin as early as late October, weather permitting.