Baseball and Softball Home Plates
posted on March 30th 2005 by Troy Frazier
Wood core home plates, spike down home plates, hollywood home plates
There are a number of different home plates available on the market and this article will discuss the advantages, and disadvantages of each type. We will also discuss the fundamentals of installing different home plates. Our personal favorite is the hard wood core burry all style home plate. Hard word core burry all homeplates are easy to install, and offer the best performance. They are heavy enough to stay in place and level without being so heavy they are hard to install. Once installed the top of the plate stays firm, and won’t sag and hold water. However the wood core does allow the plate to flex slightly making it safe to step on with cleats. When installing the hard wood core homeplate be certain to make it level. Do this with a standard pluming level (little bubble in the water). If the home plate is un-level it will wobble in the ground, and become loose. You also want the home plate to be level with the surrounding ground. If the home plate is too high it will cause injuries when the player slides into it. If the home plate is too low it will hold water.
Tack down, or spike down home plates are very common and very inexpensive. These plates are flat pieces of rubber with metal spikes on the bottom to install it. Most people install these incorrectly, and have problems with them. YOU CAN NOT BEAT ON THE TOP OF A SPIKE DOWN HOME PLATE! If you set a spike down home plate by beating on the top of it with a hammer or rubber mallet the spikes will push through the top of the home plate. When you install a tack down home plate start by removing about one inch of dirt from the area that you will be install the plate. This will make the plate level with the dirt around it. Then set the home plate in that area, and let the spikes make marks in the dirt. Then use a cordless drill to make holes slightly small than the size of the spikes. You should then be able to gently push the home plate into those holes. If you need to beat on it, place a piece of wood on top of the plate before hitting it with a hammer, or mallet. This will distribute the force better, and prevent the spikes from pushing through. Tack down homeplates are great when you need to move the plate often, or you are setting up a temporary field, however they don’t last much more than a year even with proper care. .
In ground all rubber home plates are our least favorite. There are a few different styles of all rubber home plates. The waffle bottom is the most common. If you install this plate straight out of the box it’s very hard to level. The waffle bottom home plate allows dirt to push through, and the plate is prone to shifting. In time the top of the homeplate will sag, and need to be replaced. This is often solved by pouring concrete into the waffle bottle. If your going to do this it’s important to do it right. You don’t want concrete in the very top of the plate, or the sides because it will be too firm when players step on it, or slide into it. Once you’ve got the concrete in the homeplate it will be very heavy, and difficult to install. The upside to this additional weight though is that they are hard to steal. If theft is a problem at your field you might want to consider the all rubber home plate with concrete option. It is not a convenient method however.
Hollywood style removalable home plates are designed to solve a particular need. If you baseball or softball field is a dual use field for different levels of play you might need to have two home plates installed. A tack down home plate would work, but if you need to remove it often it becomes a pain. The Hollywood style removable home plate works much like a base. It has an in ground anchor or peg that the home plate slides into. When the plate is not being used it can be removed, and the anchor can be covered up. If you don’t need to remove the plate often I would not recommend this style of home plate..
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