Rain Delays and Tarp Stories
Several people have sent me notes asking if I saw the Phillies team helping the Rockies groundcrew pull out the tarp after a gust of wind picked it up while they were trying to cover the field. My first question was anyone hurt? Having been in this situation many times I can tell you…its not fun! First there is a good chance someone could get seriously injured from pulling the tarp and if not that…then being struck by lightning has its chances at you as well. Don’t get me wrong…that was great the Phillies came out to help Mark Razum’s ground crew…but at the same time its a dangerous job as people can easily get hurt. The real hero’s are the guys and gals who put the cover out every day. And lately for many ground crews it feels like it has been everyday!
The photo was sent to me from Cindy Unger. Cindy lives in Florida and worked with me at Disney and West Palm. "THUNDERBOLTS AND LIGHTNING VERY VERY FRIGHTENING" (Just glad no one got hurt at this event). In Charlotte 1982 we were pulling the tarp for an O’s game and one of the guys fell and went under the tarp. (Its like being under a big black plastic bag.) Shortly after pulling him out from under the tarp he suffered a heart attack and died. Another incident I remember took place in Salt Lake City in 1984. We were pulling the tarp..again the lightning and wind was out of control and it picked up 2 guys on the end of the cover about 15 feet breaking one of the guys back. Living in Florida we could set our clocks by the time the thunderstorms would roll in. Loosing these 170 x170 tarps into the wind is common. We actually lost one into the stands once. We learned quickly the best thing to do when the wind has it in the air and people are loosing grip…. to just let it go. Its not worth getting someone injured and tarps are replaceable. Some ideas we would do to dry the fields before the tarp era was to bring in helicopters. I remember when we used to poor gas onto the field to dry it out. (That’s kind of dating myself as that was 25 cents a gallon!). Couldnt afford that today plus now we know its not very good for the clay.
Its somewhat ironic that all of our youth parks and facilities have lightning detection systems to warn everyone to get off the field as soon as you hear thunder. At the professional level the groundscrew’s job is to go into the storm and save the game. So the next time you are at a ballgame and you see the grounds guys out there tugging away at the cover….
Give them a round of applause..maybe 2 because they certainly deserve it. Thanks to all of the Tarp Crews around the world that save the game! If you have a tarp story we would love to hear it.