Fifth Third Field was dark last night, the Mud Hens' game against Norfolk postponed until this evening as a result of the electrical outage that affected Toledo and many cities throughout the eastern and midwestern United States.
Like much of downtown Toledo, the two-year-old ballpark did not have power.
The contest with the Tides will be made up tonight at 6 as part of a doubleheader, with both games scheduled for seven innings.
The decision to postpone the 7 p.m. start was made by Hens assistant general manager Neil Neukam, in conjunction with Lucas County Sheriff James Telb, his officers assigned to the contest and other team staffers.
Although a few downtown traffic lights were working - some just a few blocks from the ballpark - most, like Fifth Third Field, were dark.
“We got [the safety officials] to work with us up until a 6 p.m. window of time,” Neukam said. “The big concern is people coming into downtown without electricity. With thousands of folks coming into downtown, driving safety is a concern. Ultimately, having to turn people away and sending them back into those conditions again could cause some hazards.”
When the decision was made to postpone the International League contest, team officials contacted local media outlets in hope of reaching many of the some eight thousand fans who had already purchased tickets.
Team staffers informed early arrivals who were waiting for the gates to open, then remained outside the park to deliver the news to those already on their way downtown.
Inside, a few players from both teams worked out while enjoying the bright sunlight. Some Hens tossed a Frisbee around, while others sat in the locker room playing cards under an emergency light that was servicing the team's dressing area.
Fifth Third Field is equipped with a natural-gas generator that provides limited power in the event of such an outage. But most of the park - including field lights, restrooms, concession stands, scoreboards, concourse and press box - is powered with electricity and not hooked up to the generator.
The Tides had to deal with more than not playing baseball. Scheduled to stay at the Radisson Hotel near Fifth Third Field, the team was forced to relocate to the Holiday Inn Toledo West on Reynolds Road when the Radisson was left without electricity.
Former University of Toledo right-hander Jeremy Griffiths, scheduled to start for Norfolk against the Hens, spent much of his time after the postponement on a cell phone, contacting family and friends on their way to see him pitch.
He'll throw game one tonight instead.
“I had 50 people coming to the game from various parts of the state,” Griffiths said. “My parents were about three-fourths of the way here [from Avon Lake]. My wife, Courtney's, parents are already here [from Springfield]. It would have been nice to play.”
Fellow Tides pitcher Jason Scobie was in a similar spot. Scobie was born in Toledo and lived in the Holland/Monclova area before moving out of town at the age of 7. His father and an aunt and uncle were at Fifth Third Field when the decision was made to postpone the game.
“I had had 55 coming [last night] and [tonight],” Scobie said with a shrug. “What can you do?”
Toledo manager Larry Parrish said that yesterday's occurrence was no different than a rainout. It's not the first time he's experienced such an event.
“When I played in Montreal we had a game canceled at Olympic Stadium,” said Parrish, who played for the Expos from 1974-81. “Lightning hit the power plant. We were in the third inning and it knocked the power out. It happens.”
The Hens will exchange last night's tickets for those for any remaining game in the 2003 season, including any that might be available tonight. Cody Ross bobblehead dolls, which were to be given to 1,000 fans last night, will instead be handed out at next Thursday's game versus Louisville.