The buzz around the Mud Hens clubhouse yesterday centered on a crazy bus ride to the airport in Allentown, Pa.
The team was bussing from Scranton, where it played Monday night, to Lehigh Valley Airport. The Hens' bus left the hotel at 7 a.m. for the roughly hour drive to catch a 9:10 flight directly to Detroit.
Broadcaster Jim Weber, who also serves as the team's travel director, said the problems began when the bus driver decided to exit prior to reaching the airport exit.
"I guess he thought he was taking a shortcut," Weber said. "To make the story short, we got lost in Allentown."
The Hens' bus driver drove around town before asking for directions; he then circled back to get on the main highway. At one point he took a turn off a residential street too tightly and sideswiped a telephone pole and fire hydrant.
Two women standing nearby were forced to jump backward to avoid getting hit, and the bus suffered a blown tire and a ripped side panel.
One of the players - rumor has pegged Craig Dingman as the culprit - suggested that the missing panel included a phone number to report, "How's my driving?"
The impact with the pole caused the bus to start spewing diesel fuel - not in a slow leak, but with a steady stream Weber likened to a garden hose. Still, the intrepid bus driver kept driving to the airport.
"People behind us on the highway had their windshield wipers on," Hens manager Larry Parrish said, still laughing at the trip.
Along the way to the airport, a concerned driver on the road tried to get in front of the bus, then slow down, probably trying to get the bus off the road. But the bus chugged on, the driver knowing there was a chance the team would be late to the airport and miss its flight.
By the time the bus reached the airport, it was spewing so much fuel that airport security and the fire department were called to monitor the situation. Once the bus stopped, the team jumped out and went directly to their flight.
The team arrived 20 minutes before the flight was originally scheduled to take off, and the flight eventually left only 20 minutes late, arriving in Detroit at the proper time.
Parrish, who doesn't like to fly, said the crazy bus trip still was better than any flight.
"Even with all that happened to us, we were still able to get off the bus without a scratch," he said. "Can you say the same thing about a plane flight?"
WORK IN PROGRESS: The Mud Hens hope to have their new right-field scoreboard operational by late June.
The steel support beams are completely in place, as is the display board itself. Work that still needs to be done includes installing the control systems and some cosmetic work.
THREE-DOT DATA: 2B Ryan Raburn was kept out of yesterday's lineup because of shoulder soreness that was made worse by the artificial turf in Scranton. 3B Jack Hannahan was not in the lineup because of strep throat. .●.●. Pawtucket's batting helmets were lost on the team's flight to Toledo yesterday, forcing the PawSox to wear the Hens' red batting helmets until theirs arrived before the seventh inning began.
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