What’s a little rain?

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There’s already a fair amount of kvetching — if the MPR newsroom is any indication — about the possibility of rain for this afternoon’s first Twins game at Target Field. You wanted outdoor baseball, Minnesota. This is a fact of life of outdoor baseball. Didn’t they tell you that?

I never developed the hatred for the Metrodome that most people did, perhaps because my physical fitness regimen consisted of a steady diet of wind sprints through pouring rain to get inside to watch a ballgame.

MinnPost’s Jay Weiner has dug up the statistics on how often a game might be postponed in Minnesota.


Of course, weather conditions are unpredictable, but according to data developed by the team way back in 1996, during the 21 seasons the Twins played outdoors in Bloomington’s Metropolitan Stadium, there were a total of 82 games postponed because of rain, snow, cold, or “wet grounds,” for an average of about four games per season

More often that not, however, the problem with rain isn’t that the game might be postponed, it’s that it might be played.

Which brings up the subject of umbrellas at baseball stadiums. Please. Leave them home. The rain that doesn’t fall on your head, is directed to the laps of people in front of, behind, and on each side of you. And you can’t see through umbrellas.

But rain is good for real baseball fans. Rain etches memories. I’ve been to hundreds of games in my life, but the most memorable ones are the ones that had some combination of rain or postponements.

Here are three:

-1- It’s 1976 and I’m in the bleachers at Fenway. It’s pouring and the Cleveland Indians (my favorite team) are in town. After three hours of steady rain, the Red Sox invited all the fans in the bleachers under the grandstand. But I stay, standing in the rain behind the visitor’s bullpen, the only person in the bleachers. Because I’m a true fan, I will not abandon my duty to show support for my team. After a bit, Indians’ pitcher Tom Hilgendorf emerges and throws a ball to the top of the bullpen, an easy reach for me. “Did he throw that to me?” I think to myself. I decide he did not intend for me to have a baseball. It was still sitting there when the game was officially postponed an hour later. I had self-esteem issues, which is why “catch a baseball at a ballgame” is still on my Bucket List.

-2- It’s 1985, and a gorgeous evening in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, home of the Pittsfield Cubs of the Eastern League. As the sun begins to set, the game is delayed. By sun. There are only two pro baseball parks in America where the sun sets directly behind the pitcher. Wahconah Park is one of them.

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Each evening, the games are halted for about 20 minutes while everyone watches the sun set.

-3- It’s 1988 and I’m living in the Berkshires of Massachusetts, a two-hour drive from Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are playing the Orioles in a middle-of-the-week “getaway day” game. A mile from the stadium, the radio announces the game has been postponed because of the threat of rain. Both teams had flights to catch to get to their next city and the team was afraid any rain delay would cause a problem with their travel schedule. We head for the Bronx Zoo instead. It stays sunny all afternoon. Every Sunday morning since, I have wrestled with this question: If God is so great, why are there the New York Yankees?

  • Nikki

    Worst rain delay…June 13, 2008 in Cleveland. It was inter-league play time so they wouldn’t call the game (which was good for us because we were on a road trip) but it rained hard and the delay was 3 hrs long! The first inning finally finished up around 10pm and the post-game fireworks started after 1am!

    Best rainy day game…June 2007 in St Louis. It was a warm afternoon & with a rain poncho we survived and even enjoyed the game!

    I say the weather can BRING IT! :)

  • Bob Collins

    Your recollection, Nikki, makes me add #4.

    1994- I’m in St. Louis for a convention of investigative reporters and editors. The Pirates are in town and the place is practically sold out (I had Denny Naegle on an APBA team and he was starting for the Pirates). I’m in the last row, upper deck, when a vicious thunderstorm hits. People head for cover and the game is stopped. Lightning is REALLY close. I start to get up to head downstairs for cover but sit back down. I think to myself, “you know, there are a lot worse ways to go than to get hit by lightning at a baseball game in St. Louis.” I sit back down.

  • Kat

    I grew up with the ‘Dome, and while I’m very excited for outdoor baseball, part of me will always miss the experience of watching a game all snug in the ‘Dome while the thunder is roaring outside. It was especially nice when you’d go in on a hot muggy day, see the dome darken and hear thunder, and come out to smell the post-rain ozone.

    My only rainy day game so far was in the summer of ’97. I’d helped organize a large tailgating party at Midway Stadium, and we had about a hundred attendees. So, of course, about the middle of the second inning the sky turns black, then greenish-yellow, and the tornado sirens go off. The parking lot quickly became a lake. Oh, well, it was a good event up ’till then and you’re right– I won’t forget that one.

  • MR

    In my old apartment, when we didn’t have air conditioning, we used to go to the Dome on the hottest of days (and nights) because it was a relatively cheap and fun way to sit in A/C for 3-4 hours.

  • Ben Chorn

    Being born in 1987, I find it an amazing opportunity to finally experience professional Minnesota sports outdoors!

  • John

    The beautiful sunnny days watching a game outdoors trumps the odd rain problem.