Chris Jones has called off plenty of games during his seven years as general manager of the Lake Elsinore Storm. However, having to suspend the team’s game last night because of a bomb threat qualifies as a first for Jones.
The Storm evacuated its ballpark and suspended its California League game against the Modesto Nuts in the top of the seventh inning after being alerted by local police of a bomb threat at The Diamond. A search of the ballpark by police did not turn up a bomb. The teams will resume play tomorrow evening before their scheduled game.
According to The Press Enterprise (Riverside, Calif.), California Highway Patrol dispatchers received a 911 call from a person claiming to have explosives at the ballpark. Police arrived at The Diamond before the start of the seventh inning—"every one of them," Jones said in a telephone interview—and alerted team officials of the threat.
In attempt to clear out the ballpark without creating a panic, Jones had his staff turn off a bank of lights in the outfield. He then went down to the playing field, explained the situation to the umpires and both teams' managers, and had the Storm's public address announcer tell fans the game had been postponed and to leave the ballpark immediately.
"It took about 15 minutes to empty it," Jones said. "I think everybody knew once they got outside and saw all those police cars and a police helicopter circling that something (other than a power failure) was up."
California League president Charlie Blaney, who spoke with the umpiring crew last night, praised Storm staff for dealing with a dangerous situation in such a calm manner.
"I think they handled it very smartly rather than creating a panic situation," Blaney said.