Arcing power lines above the right-field Trapper bullpen at Derks Field twice rained sparks on relief pitchers and ultimately forced suspension of Friday night's scheduled second game of a doubleheader when electricity to left-field lights was cut.
The first incident, during the first game, cut power to one bank of lights in right field, but the game continued, and power was eventually restored. The second time, with one out in the fourth inning of the second game and the Butte Copper Kings ahead 4-2 in a scheduled seven-inning game, power couldn't be restored.Butte won the first game 6-3 to move five full games ahead of Salt Lake in the Southern Division.
Umpires were unable to reach Pioneer League President Ralph Nelles by telephone, so Butte and the Trappers left Salt Lake City Friday night by bus for tonight's scheduled game in Butte without knowing if or when Friday's second game will be completed from the point of the power outage. The two teams meet only twice more this season, tonight and Sunday in Butte.
Trapper Manager Barry Moss said, "I don't think the game will be finished unless it has a bearing on the standings."
Butte already has several rainouts to make up with other teams, and Friday's doubleheader was the result of a Thursday rainout at Derks Field. The Trappers have played four more games than Butte.
Butte Manager Bump Wills said, "I don't care. We'll play Salt Lake whenever and wherever. I just hope we don't have to bus all the way from Butte to play 21/2 innings. That's my concern."
Things just plain haven't gone well for the Trappers following Wednesday's fifth straight win. After the rainout, two Trapper players, pitcher Tony St. John and center fielder Pat Waid, were injured in an altercation at a convenience store near Liberty Park and spent three hours in the Holy Cross Hospital emergency room. In Friday's second game, Dennis Kidd, replacement Pat Waid, injured a knee sliding into second base and had to leave the game.
Kidd's homer in the first game first brought the power problems into dramatic light. As his homer crossed the right-field wall, the power lines arced, making it look like a scene from "The Natural."
Sparks hit Trapper reliever Chris Skyrd and coach Dan Schwam on the neck. "The second one was more of an explosion," said Schwam, who ran from the bullpen with several pitchers as arcing continued in the second game.
In the first game, the roof caved in on starter St. John in the fifth inning.
Because it cost the Trappers so much in the standings, the five-run fifth inning for the Copper Kings probably hurt St. John even more than did the aluminum crutch that was broken over his head late Thursday night that knocked him cold.
St. John and Waid had gone for ice cream following dinner after the game was rained out.
According to Trapper sources, a car went past the two ballplayers and caused them to jump back. Someone yelled at the driver to slow down, and the five occupants of the car came after the players. "Not a word was said," said St. John, who ducked a punch, then was hit over the head by an aluminum crutch that broke. He estimated he was unconscious for several minutes.
Waid punched one of the combatants and has teeth marks on his right hand to show for it, and he, too, was hit over the head with a crutch.
Waid will miss at least two or three games, said Moss.
St. John refused to use the fight or lack of sleep as an excuse. "My head was throbbing the whole time, but it was nothing I couldn't pitch through," he said.
Until the fifth, he was locked in a scoreless pitcher's duel with Butte starter Brian Steiner. Steiner had been touched for just two hits in the first five innings, and St. John had given up only three hits.
Then came the fifth. Randy Marshall singled and Geoff Flinn and Craig Newkirk followed with back-to-back doubles to score two runs. Darrin Hays' blooper drove in another run, and Barry Winford homered for two more.
St. John said he wasn't tired. "They had a couple of chink hits, and I got the ball up on (Winford). I tried to come in with a fastball, and it wasn't in enough," he said.
Steiner had the Trappers' number until Gerard Giustino got the second of his three hits in the sixth and got to third. Joe Beaulac walked, and Mike Grace smacked one to center field, and that brought in reliever John Graves.
Graves got out of that inning untouched, but he walked Ray Karczewski to open the seventh - and last - inning. Kidd smashed his first home run (he's a late addition to the club) over the right-center-field wall for two runs, and Giustino followed with a two-out homer over the highest part of the fence in the deepest part of the park to cut the Copper Kings' lead to 6-3.