Snow Days Are No Fun In Minor Leagues

Just when it seemed safe for teams to think that winter is over—Opening Days had come and gone, picnic areas were packed, beer was flowing—Mother Nature threw them a curveball.

Weather better suited for Christmas Day than Jackie Robinson Day hit much of the Northeast and Midwest early this week, forcing groundskeepers to put down their rakes and fetch their snow shovels, a routine many of them became all too familiar with this offseason. By this afternoon, eight games had already been called due to snow or rain in the International, Eastern, Carolina and Midwest leagues—with many more likely to come.

This comes after inclement weather postponed or shortened 22 games on Monday, with Midwest League clubs Beloit, Dayton, Fort Wayne, Quad Cities and Wisconsin each receiving several inches of snow.

But like the game itself, things can change quickly, and now teams are back wishing from a breath of dry air. Take, for example, Fort Wayne TinCaps general manager Mike Nutter, who arrived to work this morning at 8 to find Parkview Field covered in snow.

But with clear skies in the forecast, Nutter and his grounds crew were determined not to get snowed out tonight. So they got to work. A few hours later, however, it was still hard to see much reason for optimism.

By this afternoon, they could see green in the outfield and Nutter was hopeful the TinCaps may play tonight against the Burlington Bees.

And by 4 p.m., the team’s hard work had paid off. What snow? Play ball.

Other teams were more resigned to their fate—and tweeted out pictures as proof. The Lake County Captains posted this shot of snow-covered Classic Park this morning before officially calling off tonight’s Midwest League game against the Peoria Chiefs.

And then there were the teams lucky enough to be on the road, like the West Michigan Whitecaps (Midwest) and Lehigh Valley IronPigs (International), and shared photos of their good fortune for all to see in celebration.

This week’s weather is a far cry from last weekend, when everything seemed so sunny and bright. Just seven dates were rained out over the three-day stretch and 10 games attracted at least 10,000 fans—three coming at the Charlotte Knights' new BB&T Ballpark. The Louisville Bats drew the big crowd of the weekend on Saturday night, attracting 13,131 to Slugger Field, and in all, minor league teams totaled 720,208 spectators over 170 openings—a healthy showing so early in the season. Now they can only hope for a repeat performance this weekend.