The field is covered—and the fans head for cover—during rain delay before a pitch had been thrown in today’s Arkansas-LSU game at Rosenblatt Stadium.
By Kirk Kenney
OMAHA—Members of the 9th Inning Ministry—"Christians who love baseball" it said on the side of their truck—were giving free bottles of water to people passing by at the corner of 13th and D streets an hour before today’s Arkansas-LSU game.
They never said anything about throwing in a free baptism along with it.
Rain drenched Rosenblatt Stadium and everyone in it who wasn’t fortunate enough to have a ticket under cover (that meant about 20,000 of the 24,000 people). Thunder and lightning accompanied the rain, forcing today’s first game to be delayed more than two hours.
According to Dennis Poppe, NCAA vice president for football and baseball, they are required to wait 30 minutes whenever there is a lightning strike within a six-mile radius of the ballpark. The last lightning strike I saw was about 10 minutes before today’s scheduled start (1 p.m. EDT). Most of the delay is required to prepare the field for play.
"I’m going to be pissed if I get hit by lightning," said an Arkansas fan while waiting to cross 13th Street to the ballpark moments after a lightning bolt lit up the sky a several miles to the north.
I would have used the word "steamed" or "fried" but whatever.
Weather delays are common here, but perhaps Razorbacks fans haven’t experienced it on previous trips to Omaha.
LSU fans, on the other hand, were well prepared. Many of them were already wearing ponchos before a drip had dropped. In the Tigers’ school colors, of course.
Yesterday’s temperature was in the mid-90s with high humidity. It was 20 degrees cooler when we left for the ballpark late this morning. Much more pleasant, but you could sense something in the air. It didn’t take a degree in meteorology to know wet weather was on the way.
It was interesting to see the bleachers—which are crowded with some 5,000 fans each game—empty just minutes before game time. Instead they were huddled beneath the bleachers, rubbing elbows, shoulders, etc. . . . Warm and dry. Fans seated down the lines and behind the plate also crowded into the 62-year old ballpark’s small corridors.
In some parts of the country, games would likely have been cancelled with this much weather. They know the drill here, however.
A couple of dozen teenagers broomed rain off the tarp. Members of the grounds crew put down material to absorb the water in the dirt areas along the foul lines and behind the plate. And the PA announcer played a John Fogerty song, "Who’ll Stop the Rain."
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