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Baseball Without a Fence

There are baseball parks with big fences, small fences, and no fences at all.

Albeit rules and regulations make college and pro teams in the United States play on fields with fences, not every governing body in high school sports — and levels below it — require such a thing. Fields without a fence are also quite prevalent in softball. 

In baseball, however, these fields are not particularly common for varsity teams. The Abington (Massachusetts) High School Green Wave, however, is one of the rare teams whose field seemingly never ends. Their field — behind Frolio Middle School in town — connects to their varsity football field and another baseball field, which lacks a fence.

Some ballparks earn a reputation for being home run-friendly ballparks because they have abnormally short fences. Without a fence, however, home runs can also be a common occurrence at the Green Wave’s home field. At least, in theory, extra base hits could be more common.

“In order to use the field to our advantage, we’re trying to hit it into the gaps,” Green Wave coach Steve Perakslis said. “Before they re-did the fields here, there used to be cement in part of the outfield, so the ball would keep rolling. Back then, we tried to hit it to right-center field. Now, with the grass being repaired, it’s a little different. It’s a little more realistic with the grass.”

In the field, Perakslis said the field puts a major emphasis on having a quality defensive outfield. Specifically, a team in his situation wants to have three athletic outfielders.

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“If you’re in a place like this, there’s a lot of times where you’ve got to play deep, especially when you’re playing a team with a lot of good power hitters” he said. “If you don’t have speed out there, you’ve got to just play your guys deep so that way they don’t have to go too far back.”

When talking about defensive positioning, Perakslis said the weather and wind can impact where he plays his guys. If the wind is blowing out in favor of the hitter, then his team may play uncharacteristically deep.

“Sometimes you might have them playing on the other side of where a fence would be,” he said. “It’s the same for both teams; it’s not like it’s a big advantage. If you catch a team who has never been here, it helps. But for the most part, it’s kind of even on both sides.”

Sure, the defense is a major part of run prevention, but at times, it is not everything. Ideally, Perakslis said at a hitter’s park like the one his team plays in, their ultimate preference is on pitchers who will not give up any contact.

“A lot of it depends on pitching,” he said. “If you’ve got good pitching and can strike people out, it doesn’t even matter if the fence is 200 feet away. If you’re getting those swings and misses, it doesn’t really matter what size field you’re looking at.”

In order to fully take advantage of that gap power, which is highly-effective at the field, Perakslis also noted having speedy players and smart base runners is a major plus.

“When you’re playing here, you’ve got to be hustling out of the box because if you have no fence and it keeps rolling, you can leg a double into a triple — if you’re lucky enough,” he said. 

From GameChanger and Tom Joyce.

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