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FLASHBACK 1986: Weather Delay in the Dome


Otto von Ballpark

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36 years ago today, Twins fans had a frightening experience at the Metrodome. And Ron Davis hadn't even entered the game yet!

It was a Saturday night in April 1986, and the stadium was unusually crowded with fans for that era, with an announced attendance of 31,996. I'd like to report that a mass of Twins faithful had shown up to support a young, exciting team building towards a World Series championship the following year, but Howard Sinker in the next morning's Star Tribune likened it to a timeshare presentation instead: 125 vacations were being awarded to fans that night.

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As the Twins built a 5-1 lead in front of that captive audience inside the Dome, a severe thunderstorm was happening outside. Roads were flooded and trees were downed in the metro area, but thanks to the Dome's roof, the Twins and Angels played on in comfort. That is, until Mickey Hatcher stood at the plate in the bottom of the 8th inning, when the roof began to undulate, heavy light banks to sway, and rainwater to pour on fans in several places. The next day's KARE 11 newscast likened it to "a scene from a horror movie."

Caught in the turmoil were these two Chippendales dancers, apparently:

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Home plate umpire Ken Kaiser halted play and called the players off the field, while public address announcer Bob Casey told fans to remain calm and evacuate the upper deck. Despite the drama, fans were never in any danger, the Metrodome operations crew was quickly able to adjust the air pressure to stabilize the roof, and the game resumed after a 9 minute delay.

How did it happen? Jay Weiner broke it down in the Monday April 28 Star Tribune:

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When play resumed, Hatcher scored Steve Lombardozzi with a sacrifice fly to extend the Twins lead to 6-1. Unfortunately, that is when the real disaster began. Frank Viola started the 9th inning by allowing a double and a home run to cut the lead to 6-3, and the Twins brought in the aforementioned Ron Davis to try for the save. Davis had begun the 1986 season with 5 scoreless appearances, but his previous outing was a five-run shellacking at the hands of this very Angels ballclub.

As might be expected, Davis was greeted with a single and home run to further cut the Twins lead to 6-5, before finally recording the first out of the inning. A Reggie Jackson pinch-hit walk and another out followed, to bring the Twins within one out of victory. But eventual Rookie of the Year Wally Joyner clubbed a two-run homer to put the Angels on top 7-6, and the Twins went down in order in the bottom of the 9th to end the game. This game turned out to be the penultimate 9th inning save opportunity of Davis' career; remarkably, he was still able to be traded to the Cubs in August 1986 with a 9.08 ERA for the season.

This game proved to be the final Twins weather delay at the Metrodome, according to Stew Thornley. Even after being wind-battered, the Dome further proved it was not broken by hosting the Twins and Angels again the following afternoon, although the final outcome wasn't much different: an 8-7 Angels victory, this time without the help of Ron Davis.

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