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Storm leaves Suns de-lighted

Light tower falls at Municipal Stadium, game is cancelled

July 22, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI | bobp@herald-mail.com
  • Brandenburg Electric employee Jeff Bevard cuts broken lights off a pole that collapsed onto the Municipal Stadium field from the third-base side after a powerful thunderstorm that hit Hagerstown on Friday afternoon.
By Chris Tilley/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — Wind, rain and heat weren’t going to stop the Hagerstown Suns from playing on Friday.

But a fallen light standard sure did.

A bank of lights along the left-field side of Municipal Stadium was blown out of its cement base during Friday¿s storm, causing the cancellation of the Hagerstown Suns¿ game against Augusta.

The storm, featuring high winds and heavy rain, swept through Hagerstown around 2:45 p.m. The light fell around 3 p.m., bouncing off the front corner of the stadium¿s beer garden structure before falling across the fence to its resting place in left field, just behind the infield dirt.

“No one was hurt,” said Suns general manager Bill Farley. ¿If this would have happened on a windy night, who knows what would have happened?¿

Farley said the Suns intended on playing the game because most of the water drained off the field. The team turned on the remaining seven light banks to determine if the game could still be played.

¿The league has a rule where the umpires and the two managers meet to determine if there is enough light to keep playing if some of the lights go out,¿ Farley said. ¿(Suns manager Brian) Daubach said it wouldn¿t be bright enough to play.¿

Friday¿s game was canceled and will not be made up since the Suns do not play Augusta again. Saturday¿s game against Greenville has been moved up from 7:05 p.m. to 3:05 so the lights would not be a factor.

Farley said the Suns will offer $5 tickets for today¿s game to thank fans who attend in the daytime heat. If fans purchased tickets for the evening start and can¿t make the earlier game, those tickets will be honored at any other Suns game this season.

Sunday¿s game is already scheduled for 4:05 p.m., but Monday¿s game is a scheduled night game. Farley said Monday¿s game would be addressed during the weekend after talking with city officials to see how quickly the light standard will be replaced.

Municipal Stadium is a city-owned facility rented by the Suns.

Suns officials rolled the tarp on the field around 2:30 p.m. as the storm approached, signaled by lightning and thunder.

¿The wind was blowing so hard, it was lifting the tarp off the field,¿ Farley said. ¿We had to park some of our equipment on the tarp to keep it down.¿

The storm was so strong, Farley said employees in the team¿s offices didn¿t hear the standard fall. Members of the grounds crew who were in their area in the left-field corner of the stadium saw the lighting unit tumble. The team¿s catering staff also was in the left-field picnic patio preparing for an event.

When the standard fell, it moved about five feet in front of the cement base, severing the wiring inside. It landed face down, with the lamps on the field. The impact caused some turf damage and glass from the lamps littered the outfield grass.

¿We¿ll have to fix the turf, but the main concern is getting the glass removed from the field,¿ Farley said. ¿If we can do that, we¿ll be able to play games. They will be day games, but we will be able to play.¿

Farley said he was told the base of the standard was rusted. The other seven standards would be checked to eliminate any possible reoccurances.

Workers were on the field in the early evening, starting to remove the light pole. They removed the lamps and cut off the top fixture to remove weight and allow them to move the pole.

Farley said the damages to the beer garden and the fence will be repaired by the city this morning. There also will be discussions about replacing the lights.

¿This is a city facility and we will work closely with them to get it repaired as quickly as possible,¿ Farley said. ¿(The city) understands the urgency we have for getting the lights back.¿

The Suns finish their homestand with an 11:05 a.m. matinee on Tuesday before a week-long road trip. Municipal Stadium is scheduled to host the American Legion State Tournament, beginning Wednesday. Four games are scheduled for the first two days of the tournament, the last each day beginning at 7 p.m.

¿We will talk with them and show them the situation,¿ Farley said. ¿If they can play in the lighting situation, the stadium is theirs to use. If they can¿t, we will find a way to make it work.

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