Foul Poles & Foul Pole Ground Sleeves
Baseball Foul Poles – Get This Right!
Baseball foul poles & softball foul poles are generally chosen by their height though there are a few other features you may want to consider.
Think about why we have baseball foul poles and softball foul poles. To properly judge fair or foul, home run or not, it is the outfield fence distances that should dictate a lot of your choice. (When in doubt, go taller).
Baseball being baseball, there is no official height rules in the game so there may be a lot of leeway in design, height and build unless you have strict rules in your league, conference or similar, such as NCAA. Even MLB now has some insanely tall 50 ft. models that are an 18 inch outside diameter at the base, tapering up at its peak!
12 ft & 15 Ft. Models – these fit most fields approaching 200 ft fences. I prefer the 20 ft. tall models for larger youth fields such as the official Little League 200 ft. fences (FYI: Little League World Series Fences are set at 225 ft.)
20, 30 & 40 Ft Models – This again tends to be dependent on outfield fence distance to the plate, though NCAA softball, for example, requires only a 10 ft. minimum height (as of this writing) though frankly, this looks ridiculous so you generally will see the most popular size 20 ft. models, in high school softball and baseball parks.
When in doubt, check your league handbook or with local officials for these choices (remember, returning a baseball foul pole set is going to be problematic and costly for the customer unless they are damaged in shipment).
A Hi-Visibility Optic Yellow is standard on baseball fields and many times you see white or orange on softball fields (The NCAA softball requirements as of this writing). Many times the optic yellow may be more tradition-based.
Material & Finish
Steel that has been zinc undercoated seems to be the material of choice. Powder coating finish is what you should look for as the taller poles are not anything you would want to sand and repaint.
Most foul poles are offered in heights ranging from the most common 12, 15 or 2o ft. heights with larger models This of course refers to the finished product after installation so they will likely add another 3 or 4 feet that are inserted in the ground or int ground sleeves (see below).
Diameter & Steel Gauge
The shorter 12, 15 or 20 ft. foul pole models are generally around 3 1/2 inch outside diameter steel tubing. Taller pro models from 20, 30, and 40 ft. range from 3 1/2 to huge 6 5/8 inch outside diameters but also are built with the much heavier schedule 40 steel (think thicker walls) designed to resist wind loads up to an estimated 130 mph
Foul Pole Wings
We include wing panels that are size-appropriate to each pole height. Our standard line includes these zinc coated and powder coated corresponding color bolt-on wings made from a perforated steel mesh designed to let maximum wind pass through. Our pro foul pole sets include a heavier 11 gauge zinc coated and powder coated hi-viz color perforated steel that also allow as much wind to pass through as possible.
In-Ground Or Above Ground
Most foul poles models are installed in the ground. There are fewer available which are bolted with their included footplate on/in a concrete surface. Note that these surface mount above-ground models are available up to our largest 40 ft models and will add somewhere around $500. to the total cost.
Ground Sleeves Or No Ground Sleeves
In-ground models can be purchased as permanent installations or can be inserted in optional steel ground sleeves for a semi-permanent installation. For the odd chance that you may need to move them someday, ground sleeves may save your bacon.
Perhaps this is more than you cared to know, but I hope you gained at least some useful knowledge. Let me know if I can help you further.