You know how in yesterday’s blog post I was complaining about how lame our complimentary umbrella that we got at the AP reading was?  And you know how they say karma’s a bitch?

Without taking a look at the weather forecast last night – it looked sunny enough – I walked the six blocks to Louisville Slugger Field, sans umbrella, to watch the International League’s Louisville Bats take on the Syracuse Chiefs.  As I stood on the center field patio drinking the Thirsty Thursday offerings before the game (it may have been Bud Light, but it was $1 Bud Light), I watched the clouds get darker and darker and darker. You have got to be kidding me, I thought.  About that time, the stadium PA announcer drowned out the band playing on the patio: “Fans, the Louisville Metro is under a severe thunderstorm warning.  Please make your way to cover at this time.”

As I was listening to that announcement, I know I heard a hint of disgust in his voice.  I knew it all too well; as a former employee of a Minor League Baseball team, I can tell you that the worst things you can encounter on the job are, in no particular order:

  • Kids’ Camp Day.  Stop screaming every time a foul ball comes within four sections of your annoying little head.  I have a souvenir mini-bat from last week’s giveaway here in this pressbox and I  will freakin’ use it. 
  • Coming back from a five-run deficit to tie the game in the 9th inning and send the game to extras.  Inevitably, this happens during the game when the starting pitchers were both shoving and the first six innings only took an hour-fifteen.  The baseball gods always pay you back.
  • A rain delay twenty minutes before first pitch when it’s the last time that visiting team is going to be here all year so the managers are gonna wait here all bleeping night to try to get it in.  That was last night’s scenario.

And sure enough, last night’s game with a scheduled first pitch of 7:05 didn’t get rained out until 8:52.  I remember well how livid Shea Griffin and I got at such shenanigans at Kannapolis Intimidators games.

Of course, Shea and I found some pretty decent ways to occupy ourselves during the North Carolina thunderstorms that so frequently brought out the tarp at Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium (I know they just renamed it, but I’m a purist – “Cannon” forever!).  We had to be a little creative; the Cannon was built very quickly and for very cheap back in 1995 and has been renovated exactly zero times since.  So with no television, no radio, and twenty-year-old Packard Bell computers that had 56K dial-up modems, what were we to do?

One of our inventions was wallyball.  Now, I know that wallyball is actually a game that is sort of like volleyball on a racquetball court.  Our version was more like some kind of cross between handball, racquetball, tennis, and volleyball.  We had a plush baseball that had been given away to kids at the stadium years ago.  The object of the game was basically to smash this thing against the wall using your hand and attempt to get it past the other person.  The rest of the rules changed frequently, a la Calvinball; it could be singles or doubles, sometimes you had to hit a certain spot on the wall, etc., etc.  One season, we had particularly cool interns that would rush to the pressbox to play wallyball as soon as they got the tarp out on the field.  I wouldn’t swear to this, but I’m pretty sure we broke a picture hanging on the wall once.

Other times, we’d just sit there and shoot the bull and wait for the game to either resume or get banged.  One of the most fun things about working in sports, even if it’s just part-time, is the camaraderie that such a fun job helps foster.  Shea and I came from very different career backgrounds and probably would’ve never met otherwise, but we are now great friends.  I still keep up with several other press box crew members at the Cannon too.

So that’s what I thought about last night as I waited for the Bats game to get postponed.  And I thought that up in the press box, maybe, just maybe, the PA announcer, scorekeeper, and DJ were playing some stupid game they invented.