- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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Catcher calls time and goes out to the mound. "What's the matter?" he says.
"Nothing's the matter," she replies.
"Yes there is, something's the matter," he says. "Did I do something?"
"Nothing's the matter," the pitcher insists, but the catcher can tell, he knows her moods; there's something, and the conference on the mound continues.
Whatever changes baseball goes through, none of them ever seem to speed up the game.
"God blew it when he gave us grass" was the wry observation of SI writer Dan Jenkins at the conclusion of the first college football game ever played on Tartan Turf. That was on Sept. 14, 1968, in Knoxville; Georgia vs. Tennessee, 17-17. Now, only six years later, there is a school of thought that holds God was semi-right after all.
Two agronomists at Purdue University, Professor William H. Daniel and Superintendent of Athletic Facilities Mel Robey, have developed a way to grow real turf for football fields while at the same time eliminating some of the climatic hazards that made artificial turf desirable in the first place. They have patented their system, called it Prescription Athletic Turf (PAT) and sold franchise rights to a company in Lansing, Mich.
In the meantime they are giving PAT a full-scale test in Purdue's Ross-Ade Stadium. First the 62,000-square-foot field was excavated to a depth of 16 inches. Then a plastic cover was set in place. Four suction lines, running the length of the field, and drainage lines, running crosswise, were laid on top of the plastic. The entire excavation was then filled with sand. The suction lines were hooked up to larger lines at one end of the field, which in turn were connected to two suction pumps. The pumps, located under the stands and capable of removing 25,000 gallons an hour, empty rainwater into a catch basin. It all means solid footing, no matter what the weather.
Pat's other feature is heating cable, buried six inches in the sand, to keep the grass warm and growing when the weather turns chill late in the season. Finally, over this vast network, 7,000 square yards of Warren's A-20 bluegrass sod were laid—"a dwarf variety and very vigorous," says Robey.