BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT)- Mother Nature is a lot like a knuckle ball pitcher; you never really know what she’s going to throw your way. “It’s part of the game, it’s part of working in baseball,” says Nick Dobreff, media relations director for the Birmingham Barons. Rain delays are never welcome. Dobreff says the team approaches every game as if it will start on time. “The players have to be able to play the game,” he says. “It’s our responsibility as an affiliate of the [Chicago] White Sox.”
The team has a staff member constantly monitoring radars. If a storm moves close, the grounds crew springs into action, covering the infield with a tarp. While it’s a hectic moment for the staff, the players have to find ways to kill time. “There’s a lot of downtime,” says pitcher Ryan Buch. “It’s not like twenty minutes, and then go play. It’s usually a two hour wait, so we get together and play ping pong, [and] mess around with each other.” While some of the players participated in a double-elimination ping pong tournament during Friday’s rain delay, others lounged around, catching up on television or reading.
The fans are also affected by weather problems. The new Regions Field features a wide, open concourse so people can seek shelter and still see the field. Several fans braved the elements to see the Barons’ Friday night tilt with the Chattanooga Lookouts. Then, the rain came, as did the tarp. “We just sit up there and we make up games,” says Roderick Davenport, at the game with his children and grand-children. ”‘Simon Says,’ that’s their favorite.”
The Friday night game was suspended around 9:45. The teams will resume play Saturday at 5:00pm. Gates will open at 4:30pm. After they complete the first game, there will be a thirty minute break, and play a seven inning game.