Jim Lucas was the brainchild for this backyard ballpark, which was made reality by Eco High Fidelity, Players Choice Turf and Crestron.
If you build it, they will come. As in, if you create a ballpark in the backyard, complete with realistic turf and baseball swing and pitch analysis technology that ties into a home automation system, all the neighborhood kids will flock to your buyer’s home. All the neighborhood adults might come too, for that matter.
After contributing to the redesign of the HD Net Little Heroes Baseball Field in Dallas, and an indoor practice facility up the road, Jim Lucas, of The Little Heroes Baseball Foundation wanted to build a field in his backyard. Not just any field. The field that reminds us where we had a catch with our dad. The one that looks like our favorite ballparks and baseball movies. As an audio/video company owner, I frequently get requests for cool solutions involving outdoor living areas. When Lucas told me his idea for the backyard, he became the second best dad in the universe after mine.
First Up At Bat, Turf Installation
Lucas brought in Don Lemaster, owner of Players Choice Turf, to bring his idea to life. Don's company specializes in artificial turf that is realistic, long-lasting, and aesthetically pleasing. The challenge of putting a baseball facility in a backyard includes the obvious aesthetics to blend into the landscape and backyard decor. But there is also a challenge for the builder and designer to plan irrigation, drainage, how the artificial meets the natural and to keep it permanent. Most importantly, it needs to feel like you're playing in your favorite major-league stadium.
Players Choice Turf specializes in creating solutions that include smoother and softer grass along with better UV resistance. After several hundred wheelbarrows of crushed granite, and the installation of the artificial turf, Lemaster also planned ways to drain excess rain and provide resistance from the daily doggy deposits. The result, a beautiful baseball facility that included a batting cage and field to practice pitching, swing and grounders. The first time I saw it, I thought I was standing in 21st century version of the Sandlot.
Player Analysis Tech Makes a Homerun
My company, Eco High Fidelity, was charged with the task of designing a system that provided recording and analysis of Lucas' son’s baseball swing and pitch. The system needed to be state-of-the-art and able to host an entire team for practice, while resisting the wear and tear of Texas weather.
Our team was very excited to integrate several forms of technology for a singular solution. Especially with baseball. Lucas currently has a Crestron system and virtual cell Wi-Fi network from Pakedge that encompasses the entire house and backyard.
RightView Pro seemed like the ideal choice for performance analysis technology, as it’s the system used in most major league and college baseball facilities across the country. The system revolves around high speed cameras connected to Panasonic tough books loaded with RightView Pro Software. The coolest part is you can compare your swing and pitch to tons of files that include examination of real major-league players.
The initial challenge was making this cool technology work in the Texas heat. There are two separate systems. One resides in the batting cage and the other in the pitching/fielding area. This system required a design based on limited space, angles and sun interference. We also wanted the convenience of being able to use the system without having to set up the computer each time, so we designed permanent stands encapsulating the laptops while providing additional weatherproofing. Lucas also had a shade solution installed over each area that helped screen viewing protect the coaches and players from the sun.
A Dream Come to Fruition
Once the idea was in place, it was all put together by lead technician and programmer for Eco High Fidelity, Jonathan Hughes. He also made a cool solution for integrating the Pakedge network to integrate with the Right View Pro system. Now Mr. and Mrs. Lucas can hang out on the covered patio while using the Crestron system and simultaneously monitoring their son's results while he practices. The backyard is complete with multiple pairs of Paradigm speakers and a SunBrite TV by the pool. Beautiful landscape and awnings surround the yard and barbecue grill to create the perfect environment for going to the ballpark.
So whether it's a spring day of practice with the team or a game of Wiffleball on a summer night, this is the backyard to hang out in Dallas Texas. As I said, second coolest dad in the universe.
About the Author
Tommy Kissell is the owner of Eco High Fidelity, an electronics and solar integration firm in the Dallas area with a focus on environmentally friendly and energy-efficient home solutions.