Chillicothe team's game could not be played, due to field damage after portions of "June" Shaffer Memorial Park stadium's field were flooded and damaged. Game will be shifted to Clarinda, Iowa, for July 24 play
By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor
One almost could hear Kevin Costner’s “Bull Durham” movie character “Crash” Davis chortling, “Oh, my goodness. We’ve got a natural disaster,” after he and some teammates – in a late-night ploy to avoid their struggling club’s having to play the next day – turned on a stadium’s watering system to render the field, when the situation was discovered the next morning, too water-damaged for play.
From all indications, what happened at Chillicothe’s “June” Shaffer Memorial Park stadium overnight Friday/Saturday was unintentional and accidental. It just produced the same result – a postponement until July 24. For a couple of reasons, that was not something the Chillicothe Mudcats organization wanted.
According to an e-mail message to the C-T Sunday from Doug Doughty, team general manager, a water main broke the night before near the entrance to the stadium. Doughty was relaying that information second-hand, having been returning from an out-of-state trip he was on the previous few days.
“It flooded the concourse area, dugouts, backstop area and down both foul lines to the (outfield) fence,” related Doughty. “Apparently, the warning track (in front of the outfield walls) was eroded, too. The water wasn’t shut off till late (Saturday) morning and the area was flooded badly.”
Given the stadium field was unplayable for Saturday’s slated evening home game against the Clarinda (Iowa) A’s, the options were to postpone the game – an undesirable option, since the teams had no mutually-available “open” dates during the remaining two weeks of the 2018 regular season for resetting it to be played in Chillicothe– or try to find an available field.
What once would have been an easy fallback option – the “green” field at Daryl Danner Memorial Park with its original dimensions designed to accommodate high school and college-age baseball – no longer is one after the field reasonably was reconfigured a couple of years ago to dimensions more-appropriate distance for younger youth play.
The next most-logical and – to Chillicothe team interests – preferable alternative was to try to play again at Burleigh Grimes Field in Trenton, where the Mudcats had just faced the A’s last Tuesday in a regularly-scheduled contest.
That field was scheduled for use from late morning through mid-to-late afternoon as the American Legion baseball AAA (Senior) Division District 2 Tournament wrapped up with either one or two championship-round games. Although Grimes Field likely would have been free after anywhere from 2 to 5 p.m., the untimed format of baseball did leave open the remote possibility of the Legion play extending beyond 5 p.m.
According to Doughty, Mudcats head coach Caleb Bounds was eager to explore that option between the time the Shaffer Park field damage was discovered before noon and the Clarinda team bus’ planned departure time of 2 p.m. However, with Doughty not in town and apparently unable to be reached, a person apparently affiliated with the Mudcats organization, but not identified publicly by the general manager, made a decision to notify the A’s that the game would not be played Saturday, even without Bounds having the chance to check on Grimes Field’s availability.
Instead, because of the lack of an available “make-up” date, the postponement effectively left no alternative than for the game Chillicothe was to host – with the accompanying planned business sponsorship and related activities – to be piggy-backed with the already-planned, regular-season-ending July 24 rainout “make-up” game at Clarinda. While, presumably, the Mudcats will be considered the “home” team (last scheduled at-bat) for one of that day’s two games, they’ll still be playing a facility to which their foe is more-accustomed.
Although mathematical odds argue against it, Chillicothe and Clarinda could enter that last day battling for one of the MINK League North Division’s wild-card playoff spots – either with each other or with the St. Joseph Mustangs.
While having to play an extra league game on a foreign field theoretically should be a disadvantage for the Mudcats, their rate of success on the road thus far this season has been better than at home.
Through Sunday night’s 9-7 at Clarinda, the Fish were 6-13 in home games (4-12 in league action) and 6-11 (all league games) on foes' fields.