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05/25/11 12:17 AM ET
Rain, hail force late night in Arlington
By T.R. Sullivan / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Rangers game with the White Sox was delayed for two hours and 58 minutes on Tuesday night at the Ballpark in Arlington.
During the delay, Rangers officials had to remove fans first from the upper deck and then the main concourse while dealing with the threat of heavy rains, lightning, hail and possible tornadoes.
The White Sox had a 4-2 lead going into the bottom of the fourth inning after Carlos Quentin hit two home runs and drove in four runs against Rangers starter Derek Holland.
The game started with thunderstorms and lightning in the area, and the Rangers evacuated the upper deck in the third inning because of concerns for fans' safety.
"That level doesn't provide a whole lot of protection," said Rob Matwick, the Rangers' vice president for ballpark operations.
It was at 8:23 p.m. CT when crew chief Tim McClelland called time before the Rangers came to bat in the bottom of the fourth. The winds were being measured in excess of 30 mph, with gusts much higher than that. Debris was swirling around outfielder Mitch Moreland while he was standing in right field in the top of the fourth.
There was no rain when time was called but it began shortly after groundskeeper Dennis Klein's crew fought the high winds to get the tarp in place over the infield. Before long, heavy rains moved through the area and at one point, golf-ball-sized hail pelted the Ballpark and covered the playing field.
Just after 9 p.m., the Rangers were told by the city of Arlington that there was possible tornadic activity in the area and that fans needed to be moved to safe area. At that point, the Rangers tried to move as many fans as possible from the main concourse to the service concourse below.
"That was a call made by the city of Arlington," Matwick said. "They were seeing signs of tornado activity headed to Arlington and didn't feel it was safe. We tried to get as many people downstairs as possible even though we couldn't accommodate everybody."
The ballpark was twice hit by hailstorms but no tornadoes materialized in the area.
"The hail was just as big of a concern but we were able to get people under cover and protect them from hail," Matwick said. "As far as the tornadoes, the radar showed signatures that there could have been tornadoes, but I'm not aware of any over the ballpark."
Just over an hour into the delay, the rain stopped and the tarp was taken off the field. But play was not resumed. McClelland decided to continue the delay because of the threat of more rain from the west.
Thirty minutes later, that prediction came true as more rain swept through.
"Assuming the starters didn't return, Tim didn't want a second set of pitchers have to get up and then get shut down," Matwick said. "He wanted to wait until the second line of thunderstorms came through and, if there was nothing behind it, we would crank it back up."