Captain Dynamite


GM’s of minor league clubs have got to have one the coolest and toughest jobs in baseball. The Minor League GM job description is far different from the Major league guys that purely scout talent and build championship organizations.  I have worked for quite a few of the big league guys as well.   Most were pretty good when it came to the field on the major league side, but on the minor league side the business of the GM is to put people in the park. They always push the limit on using the field.   

Rob Rabenecker (Roger Dean Stadium home to the marlins and cardinals) is one of those guys that sticks out in my mind more than others.  He always pushed the envelope on pre-game promotions …which caused a bit of tension!  One in particular came before a game in west palm beach, FL. at the old municipal stadium. 

This particular promotion featured “Captain Dynamite”  .  At the time, I was in charge of the spring training complex for the city and all promotions were discussed before approvals were granted.  Rob explained that the Captain would setup his “coffin of death” behind second base…the crowd would count down and he would blow himself up!  Sounded harmless…in theory!

In order to make the explosion have the bang it was supposed to have the Captain had to use blasting caps around the coffin.  Unfortunately, the city’s fire marshall said that would not be allowed so the Captain was forced to use M-80’s.   The Captain (70+) years old was a bit upset with the reduction in firepower but surrendered to the request.  He really just wanted to give the crowd a good show.  He was a showman and had toured hundreds of parks and it sounded like this was the only problem he ever had with Fire Marshall.

Just before game time we prepared the field for the game as usual. As I walked back towards the field just before the game, I noticed the Captain had moved his coffin of death  from the infield at second base to a location right behind the pitchers mound and was spraying something all over and around the coffin  on the grass. (Later I found out it was Lighter fluid)   The count down began 3..2..1. BOOM…The fireball from the explosion went 15 feet high.  He staggers out of what is left of the coffin as part of the show as the crowd cheers him and I am standing at the edge of the field speechless.  As the smoke clears,  I noticed that the natural green beautiful Bermuda grass behind the mound was torched crispy and black.  About a 15 x 15 square area.   Need less to say my favorite GM Rob,  was no where to be found. 

On the bright side it was good to know that the good captain was OK after the blast and he was sorry for the dead grass caused by the explosion. He was a professional performer with a lot of BANG in his day!    It is my understanding he has a daughter and son that picked up .  I am not sure if she is still touring but if she is..beware of the lighter fluid effect.  Its expensive!

8 Comments

I remember seeing this guy in north carolina at a minor league ball park. that was a long time ago. He was old then. Funny story!

I remember the real captain dynamite as well as he was good friends with my grandma aletha in seattle. we would go watch him in local college parks doing stunts! Its a shame if someone is duplicating him!

I am captain dynamite’s daughter. I loved my dad very much. The captian has been deceased since 2000. I take offence to the tone of your blog and I have not toured under the name lady nitro ever! I am his only daughter and if someone is claiming to be his daughter they are a fake and a fraud!!!

Captain Dynamite was one hell of a showman. In fact, he was one of my favorites. I was the GM with the Boise Hawks Class A Northwest team in 1990. We had the Captain scheduled to blow himself up in July of 1990. The day of the event, the Captain pulled into the stadium in his motor home with his family on time the day he was to perform. He had driven almost 600 miles all night from Bellingham Washington where he had blown himself up the night before. The Captain came into the front office and introduced himself. He asked if he could speak to me in private. I took him into my office and closed the door. The Captain was very calm and professional and informed me that he was looking forward to performing tonight, but he personally could not perform. He continued and explained that as a demolition specialist for many years, the loud blasts were catching up with him.

As it turned out, the Captain?s doctor had limited him to three consecutive nightly explosion performances. The Captain was such a great promotional attraction he had booked himself almost every night of the baseball season across the country. His Doctor had informed him that for the sake of his health, after three consecutive nights he would have to take at least one day off.

As luck would have it, the night of the Boise performance, was one of those 3rd consecutive blow up nights. I was of course concerned since we had just spent a lot of money promoting the game to enjoy watching the Captain ?Blow Himself up?. The Captain quickly calmed me down. ?Don?t worry Ken. We are going to have a great show tonight?. ?How are we going to have a show if you can?t blow yourself up?? I asked. The Captain calmly replied, ?I am going to make it up to you by blowing up two people instead of one, and it?s not going to cost you one extra penny?. I said, ?Captain, I like what I am hearing tell me more?. The Captain replied, ?I am going to give you the double coffin blow up. We are going to blow up one in-between first and second and the other between second and third?. I said ?Captain, who are we blowing up if you can?t blow yourself up? The Captain calmly replied ?We are going to blow up my kids!?

The Captain continued, ?My daughter and my son are grown up and they have been trained and they know what they are doing?. I thought to myself that, this wasn?t your average family vacation, but the Captain had such confidence and commitment to his show, that something told me that the night was going to be a success. Immediately after the game, the Captain takes the field and sets up his son in Coffin #1 in-between first and second. His daughter takes coffin #2 at the shortstop position. I am standing on the first base sideline watching the Captain make his final preparations. After he tucks his daughter into the coffin, he comes over to me and tells me ?I put on a little extra lighter fluid?, the fans will love it. He then proceeds over to the igniter. The fans begin the countdown then, BOOOM there goes Coffin #1, the Captains son emerges, staggers and is completely on fire compliments of the extra lighter fluid. Within seconds, Coffin #2 goes up in flames. His daughter rolls out on fire until the dirt finally extinguishes the fire.

The stands remained full from the sell out crowd after the game for the show. The crowd is going wild with approval. It is obvious that this was a successful promotion. I was already a big Captain Dynamite fan, but what took place next made me even a bigger fan.
As both kids were lying on the ground on fire, the Captain came over to me and had a contract in hand for next year. He was closing the sale for booking an event for next year. The Captain could have written a chapter for Tom Hopkins. He is asking for the order while the client is experiencing joy with the product that he just delivered. As an avid reader of sales books, I knew exactly that the Captain was executing the future close. But because it was so beautifully executed, I didn?t care. I signed that agreement on the spot to insure the Captain Dynamite show the following year.

This world needs more Captain Dynamites. God Rest His Sole.

i saw lady dynamite in little rock at a travs sat. or sunday game – i left after her show but not before meeting her and asking her about her father whom i saw many times at travs games in little rock arkansas im sitting at my watering hole in west little rock JULIES at the bar when a lovely lady sat down a stool down from me-it was lady dynamite she had stopped in for something to eat i engaged her in conversation one of the most interesting females id ever met hell she blew herself up for a living as her father before her -her time was short headed home 2 her family in texas and another ballpark —time 1999- 2000 summer of

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