It’s important to know where the sun will be at the time of day when most games will be played. It can affect every player on the diamond. Ideally, try to keepthe sun out of the batter’s line of sight. It can be dangerous for a batter to try to pick up a pitch when looking directly, or even indirectly, into the sun. It is safest to keep the sun entirely behind the batter’s head.
Make sure the sun angle will impact as few fielders as possible, too. The best angle for both batters and fielders is to have the centerline of the field run from southwest to northeast with home plate at the southwestern end. The centerline of the field is the imaginary line running from the back point of home plate (the apex) through the middle of 2nd base, and on out to centerfield.
Now that you know which direction your field will face, choose the location of home plate. If you have a backstop installed, make sure you center home plate within it. Check with your ruling jurisdiction for the proper distance between the backstop and home plate (see Baseball Field Dimensions Diagrams). The backstop-to-home-plate should be a continuation of the field centerline from home plate to centerfield. Place a pin, stake, or marking flag where you want the point of home plate (apex) to be located.
Attach one end of a 200′ or longer measuring tape to the stake at home plate and measure out in the direction that you want to place 2nd base. Reference the Field Dimensions Diagrams to find the distance based on your ruling league or jurisdiction. Drive another stake at the proper distance for 2nd base. This point should be the exact center of 2nd base and should fall on the centerline of the field.
To find the location for 1st base, extend the measuring tape from 2nd base in the direction where the approximate location for 1st base will be. Be sure to measure using the required distance according to your league. Then, extend a second measuring tape from your home plate stake toward 1st base. You will place another stake at the point at which the two tapes intersect using equal distances from home-to-1st and 2nd-to-1st. This point will be the back outside corner of 1st base. Repeat this process to find the location of 3rd base.
Now that home plate and the three bases are staked, locate the pitching mound. The center of the mound is located on the centerline of the field. The distance from home plate — as dictated by the league rules — is always measured from the apex of the white portion of home plate to 2nd base. The black outside edging on the plate is not considered part of home plate and should not be included
To find the left field foul line, let A equal the distance between 2nd and 3rd base. Let B equal the distance the foul line will extend past 3rd base to the foul pole.
Square each of these two numbers. Then, add them together. Next, take the square root of the sum of the two numbers to calculate the length of C — the hypotenuse (follow the sample below). Once you have values for A, B and C, you can go to work on your field to triangulate the location of your foul poles.
If you have been following Steps 1-5, you have stakes set at the back corner of 3rd base and the exact center of 2nd base. Extend a 300′ measuring tape from each stake. Extend the tape from the 3rd base stake to the B distance, and you will extend the tape from 2nd base to the C distance.
Pull the two measuring tapes toward each other until they are perfectly straight and intersect at the correct measurements. Place a stake at this location to mark the left field corner. This is the location of your left field foul pole.
Repeat this process for finding the right field foul pole by having A equal the distance from 1st base to 2nd base, and B equal the distance you want the foul pole to extend past 1st base.
SAMPLE FOUL POLE CALCULATION
Knowing the distance from home to 3rd is 90′, that leaves 240′ from 3rd to the left field foul pole.
Let’s apply this to the field using the geometric formula for a right triangle: A² + B² = C²
Let A = 90′; Let B = 240′
A² = 90 x 90 =
B² = 240 x 240 = 57,600′
(A²) 8,100 + (B²) 57,600 = (C²) 65,700′
To find the value of C, calculate the square root of 65,700: C = 256.3′
You’ll want to convert that decimal into inches: 0.3′ x 12″ = 3.6″
Therefore, the value of C — your distance from 2nd base to the left field foul pole — is 256′ 3.6″.