Recently, this image went viral:
These are the feet of Cleveland Indians pitcher Oliver Pérez. No, it wasn’t Shoeless Joe Tribute Night at Fenway. As it turns out, Pérez broke a cleat. This resulted in a delay of game, during which Pérez stood barefoot on the mound whilst the equipment manager sorted a new pair of kicks, and bewildered commentators debated what was happening.
I have always loved baseball because of its wide margin for bizarre things to happen. 2019 has been a delight. We’re not even at the All-Star break, and we’ve already experienced sock feet, power failures and bee swarms.
Inspired, I went in search of more strange delays, and the internet definitely delivered.
THE GRASS MENAGERIE
An astonishing number of species have interrupted ballgames.
In 2017, Yadier Molina’s bases-loaded at-bat was interrupted by a cat running onto the field. Molina’s Cards were down 5-4 in the sixth, and the intruder was quickly scooped up by a member of the grounds crew, who sustained a few scratches.
Molina went on to hit a grand slam. St Louis’ new favourite feline was quickly christened #RallyCat.
Though a woman claimed the cat was hers and tried to take it home, it somehow escaped later that day. The Cards subsequently released a bonkers statement about the incident:
Rally Cat was later (maybe) found, and a legal battle followed.
That same year, an Indians-Twins game was interrupted by a speedy squirrel who was determined to have a full, self-guided ballpark tour. After running the bases, the ambitious rodent leapt into the stands in left field:
“They bugged me.” – Joba Chamberlain
The 2007 ALDS featured a plague of biblical proportions.
It was the eighth inning of game one between the Yankees and the Indians (them again!). Joba Chamberlain was on the mound for the Yankees, who were up 1-0, when a swarm of midges descended on Jacobs (now Progressive) Field.
“It’s like somebody let them go,” said Derek Jeter.
Pre-swarm, Chamberlain was on top form, as he had been since his August call-up. Until that fateful game, the rookie had only ever thrown one wild pitch. He threw two in the eighth, including one leading to the tying run coming home.
The midges terrorized the players (and Chamberlain in particular) for about 45 minutes.
The Indians won the game in extras.
The umpires never officially stopped the game, though trainers—and Jorge Posada—did pay frequent visits to the mound to spray Chamberlain with repellant.
As it turned out, the spray probably served to attract even more midges. “It was like chateaubriand for those bugs,” said then-manager Joe Torre.
One team’s trauma was a fan’s treasure: the infamous spray can was auctioned off, and the winning fan got to meet Chamberlain during the following spring training.
What is love? Baby don’t herd me.
Animal incidents aren’t limited to the majors, and, like most things involving the minor leagues, this one is just that much weirder.
In 2016, a game between the Batavia Muckdogs and the State College Spikes was delayed by a sheep. Yes, a sheep.
The sheep, who was running after the Spikes’ mascot, Nookie Monster, was at the stadium as part of a promotion involving Whiplash the Cowboy Monkey. Described on his website as an “international star”, Whiplash is an actual monkey dressed in a cowboy hat, chaps and boots. The “three-time Pro Rodeo Entertainer of the Year” rides a Border Collie called Boogie and herds sheep.
Minor league baseball, everyone.
“Lights-out” is often used to describe a great pitching performance, but it’s also an apt descriptor for game three of the 2007 NDLS between the Phillies and the Rockies.
Coors Field’s altitude always presents unique challenges, and this game was already off to a strange start, with the temperature dropping dramatically—by almost 10 degrees (C)—just before the first pitch.
During the second inning, the lights went out—and stayed out—for 14 minutes.
BLINDED BY BLING
kimtoedashian shared this fond memory from the ‘90s (via reddit):
“When I was a kid, Pascual Perez was pitching for the Braves. The opposing manager (Tommy Lasorda, maybe) complained that Pascual’s chain was shiny and distracting to hitters. The umpire ruled that Pascual had to get rid of the chains. So, he disappears for what felt like a year. Everyone is just standing there waiting. He finally comes back from the clubhouse wearing a turtleneck under his jersey. It was in the 90s and dude is wearing a turtleneck because he was not taking his chains off. So for me, my craziest delay was delay by turtleneck.”
THE BOYS OF DONNA SUMMER
July 12, 1979.
Disco was dominating the airwaves, much to the chagrin of Chicago rock DJ Steve Dahl, who had recently been fired from his job after his station embraced the new music craze.
Dahl expressed his revulsion to the genre by “blowing up” disco records on air at his new station, dragging the needle across records before playing an explosion sound effect. It proved incredibly popular.
Meanwhile, the White Sox were struggling to draw a crowd to Comiskey Park. Owner Bill Veeck and his son Mike needed a plan.
They decided to destroy disco.
The Veecks invited Dahl to a double-header between the Sox and Tigers. Fans would be admitted to the game for 98 cents if they brought a disco record, which Dahl would explode (for real this time) on the field in between the games.
No one could have predicted what happened next.
The game sold out, and thousands more anti-disco demonstrators showed up without tickets.
During the first game, people started throwing albums like frisbees. “I remember records flying by me when I was pitching,” said White Sox pitcher Ed Farmer.
After the first game, Dahl, sporting camo and a helmet, was driven onto the field in a Jeep Commando. He proudly declared the event “the world’s largest anti-disco rally” and began to chant: “Disco sucks! Disco sucks!”
Dahl exploded the records, sending vinyl flying through the air in a cloud of smoke.
Soon, a fan ran onto the field and stole second base—literally.
It was pandemonium.
Tigers manager Sparky Anderson insisted his team couldn’t play the second game, and the umpires agreed. The White Sox were forced to forfeit— one of only five forfeits in Major League Baseball since 1954.
I’M NOT BLOWING HOT AIR
I promise all of the above things happened, though, sadly, I wasn’t there to witness any of them.
This one happened to me.
It was your average little league softball game day in Ottawa. I don’t remember specifically what position I was playing, but chances are I was catching. Here’s what I do remember:
We spotted a hot air balloon in the sky. The balloon got closer, then it started descending. It became clear it was headed for us. We scattered out of the way as balloon eased down onto the field, like a whimsical scene from an old film.
After manoeuvring his basket to the ground, the pilot got out and apologised for the emergency landing.
The balloon was removed from the field and we carried on playing.
What’s your favourite weird baseball delay story? Tell us in the comments or on Twitter!