The The city of Montreal has a single team that is able to build a baseball field according to Major League Baseball (MLB) standards. She is based in Ahuntsic-Cartierville. The leader, Dominic Désilets, explains the responsibilities of his technicians without whom a ball game would be completely dangerous.
When did we start hearing from you?
When the Toronto Blue Jays first came to Montreal in 2014 [jouer contre les Mets de New York en matchs préparatoires], I approached Evenko [l’organisateur de l’événement] to tell them that not many people were able to set the stage by MLB standards.
They wanted volunteers to do it. I told them they needed a little more qualified people.
Then we set up a team [avec des employés qui avaient l’habitude de préparer des terrains de baseball]. We had with us Pierre Vézina, who had worked with the exhibitions for twenty years. There were also two other Ahuntsic-Cartierville employees working with me. I had also recruited a guy from Saint-Bruno, who really liked it.
What was said at the time was that it was people from Toronto who came to the pitch at the Olympic Stadium. That was totally wrong.
The first year we were supervised by an employee of the Blue Jays, and we managed to build an almost perfect ground. In the Major League test, you must pass 56 measurements. We had 55 perfect.
The Blue Jays have been to Montreal six times, and I have been on the field each time. If the first year it had not worked, I certainly would not have been called back.
Also, the former rapporteur, Coderre, who is a baseball enthusiast, remembered that it was his boys of the city that had done the job.
So in 2017 we were chosen to prepare the ground for the World Cup in Thunder Bay. [championnat junior]. We went to work there for 21 days.
What inspires you to have such a track record?
Beyond the work, there is an enormous pride in seeing people from here prepare the ground.
Why is it so complicated to mark a baseball field on any surface?
In professional baseball in the major league, there are a bunch of standards the field must meet, and there is no tolerance. If we say that there is a drop between marble and a 10 inch pile, it will probably be 10 perfect inches, measured with lasers.
And that’s not enough. We are also responsible for the safety of the players. They are athletes worth millions, and no one wants the track to be the source of an injury.
Otherwise, there are many things to consider, such as access to water and efficient materials. Among the pros, we try as much as possible to make the field easy to play. We will check the hardness of the earth to ensure that the bounces are at waist height. Balls that are beaten on uneven ground can come off in any direction.
Yes, the players are good at TV, but they play in fields that are in excellent condition.
Does it need more than technical skills?
It requires passionate people. It is very hard work that requires a very high level of precision. You need perfectionists. The employees who work with me on these projects know what degree they are going to achieve. They will spend time and effort on it.
Are you an enthusiast yourself?
I played baseball when I was five years in the junior elite. I then coached the Bantam and Junior teams. I coached players like Russel Martin when he was 14.
In 2017, I wrote two guides for maintenance of baseball and softball courts. In 2009, I founded my own company, Désilets Baseball, which I lectured on on the maintenance of baseball courts in Quebec.
We have no idea about the work behind these conferences. Without passion it would not work.
You are lucky to combine passion and work.
I consider myself lucky.