Come out to the ballpark on any given day, and there’s no telling what you might see. Or might not see. For instance, a baseball game played as scheduled from start to finish. Nobody hopes for a delay, but the possibility does add a certain spontaneity. And is there any atmosphere more spontaneous than a Minor League Baseball game?
With that in mind, here are a few of the oddest delays in Minors history.
In case of emergency, replace glass
On June 18, 2021, the Marlins-affiliated Jupiter Hammerheads were hosting the St. Lucie Mets in the Single-A Florida State League when a fourth-inning foul ball off the bat of Jupiter's Cameron Barstad smashed a fire alarm on the concourse of Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium, causing much sound and fury. The stadium was evacuated amid the blaring of the alarm, which continued until the fire department arrived to quell it.
The delay lasted a mere seven minutes, but that Barstad swing sure caused a ruckus.
The time L.A.’s smog delayed a game in Minnesota
Dodger Stadium has remained a Major League gem since opening in 1962, but smog might have been Los Angeles’ most famous landmark for the second half of the 20th century. It was once so bad that it caused the delay of a Minors game 1,500 miles away.
On July 11, 1958, the St. Paul Saints of the American Association awaited the arrival of the Minneapolis Millers. The Millers, coming off a western road trip that ended with a 4-3 loss to the Denver Bears, showed up a half hour late. That's not so bad, considering the flight the Millers took out of Colorado, which originated in California, was held two hours in L.A. while the crew waited for the smog to thin enough to take off.
When a boxing match put the baseball world on hold
Every few decades, a new technology augments the way fans engage with sports, and change can be scary. In the Minors in particular, the popularization of TV created an attendance challenge. For the first time, people in towns hundreds of miles from Major League parks could see big league stars without leaving home.
Of course, other sports took a share of the spotlight, too. The nationally televised June 5, 1952, championship boxing match between Ezzard Charles and Jersey Joe Walcott provoked panic across baseball. There were but two Major League games on the slate that night, but they drew a combined total of less than 10,000.
Some Minors teams simply postponed that night's games. But in Oakland, the Pacific Coast League’s Oaks tried to incorporate the fight hype into their ballpark by inviting fans to watch the boxing match on a specially installed bank of television sets near home plate and delaying the game until the fight was over and the field was cleared.
It didn't work. A total of 432 people showed up.
But even for those who stayed home, the viewing experience was less than ideal. Just as the decision (the 38-year-old Walcott, unanimous, over the 30-year-old Charles) was about to be revealed, the broadcast went down. A United Press item reported that the outage, "... was apparently caused when a small boy stepped on a switch and broke the cable connection."
A pause for the intense craving of the umpire
Strange as it sounds, healthy habits were not always a hallmark of the sporting world. In the early 20th century, chewing tobacco was a common vice among ballplayers, and umpires were partial to the unhygienic dip, too.
Take Mickie Cleary. On July 27, 1909, Cleary was calling a Kansas State League game between the Lyons Lions and the McPherson Merry Macks that remained deadlocked, 1-1, into the 18th inning. Cleary called time and, per a newswire report, "appealed to a friend in the grand stand for a chew of tobacco." The game was delayed until he returned to his spot behind the dish with full cheeks.
After 21 frames, Lyons had the win, 2-1. The game was played in two hours, 50 minutes.
Here come the other boys in blue
When it rains, it pours. An Interstate League game on May 15, 1945, turned very dreary indeed.
That day, the series-opening game between the York White Roses and Allentown Cardinals was delayed multiple times by rain, but the precipitation was the least of the trouble at the ballpark.
In the fifth inning, Allentown took a 1-0 lead in the midst of some very wet weather, but, having already endured two delays, the umpiring crew allowed play to continue. By the end of the sixth, when the rain showed no signs of letting up and visiting York had seized a 2-1 advantage, the home-plate ump did halt play. Fans were, in a word, displeased. Some stormed the field. The umps capitulated, and play continued through heavy rain as police riot squads arrived to quash any further eruptions in the stands.
After the completion of nine soggy innings, York had it, 5-2, and the two-man umpire crew required a police escort through town.
Department of wayward animals
Weather and bad behavior aside, animals on the field are perhaps the most common cause for Minor League delays. A few noteworthy examples of recent vintage:
In a between-innings dachshund race for the title of "El Paso's Fastest Wiener" at an Aug. 30, 2015, Triple-A Chihuahuas game, one dog outfoxed the field by running far off course. The little fellow visited the El Paso bullpen, gave second base a good sniff, said hello to Oklahoma City third baseman Corey Seager and led handlers and grounds crew on a zig-zagging chase until finally rolling over, resulting in a delay of a couple minutes.
A racing sausage-dog interruption is not to be confused with a sausage-race dog interruption. The latter took place at a High-A Greensboro game this past April.
A 2017 Delmarva Shorebirds game was delayed by a goose playing possum in the outfield.
Two Minor League games were delayed by a possum threatening to goose Brett Phillips -- once when he was with Quad Cities in 2014 and once when he was with Double-A Biloxi in 2016.
There was quite a buzz about a delay caused by a swarm of bees in the home dugout of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks on July 8, 2018.
A couple months earlier that same season, back-to-back games between a pair of the Hooks' Texas League rivals -- the Frisco RoughRiders and the San Antonio Missions -- were delayed by a cat on the field and a snake on the field, respectively.
This season, two separate games -- one in May and one in September -- between the Double-A Bowie Baysox and Harrisburg Senators were briefly halted by a skunk.
Josh Jackson is an editor for MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter @JoshJacksonMiLB.