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May 30, 2013

Rangers grounds director Dennis Klein on the battle with the tarp

Dennis Klein has been taking care of baseball fields since 1996, and had never experienced winds as drastic as his crew fought Wednesday night trying to get the tarp over the infield at Rangers Ballpark. 

A sudden storm whipped through the stadium at about 5:45 p.m. when the grounds crew was taking equipment used for batting practice off the field, and they didn’t get the tarp on in time.

“Once the wind started blowing, we were cooked,” Klein said. “You just hang on and the wind was blowing from the south, so it took everything to the north. The whole third-base side blew and that was it.”

Klein said the crew might have been able to get the tarp on had they started five minutes earlier. However, they were willing to let the visiting Arizona Diamondbacks finish their batting practice session.

“Next time, I’m not going to be so nice to the visiting team,” Klein said.

Still, even if they would have got the tarp on, Klein said there were no guarantees the game could have been played later that night. The winds were so strong that they would have had a difficult time keeping the third-base side pinned down.

At one point, the wind created a bubble underneath the tarp that was some 20 feet off the ground. Some grounds crew went airborne and had scraps afterwards, but no serious injuries occurred.

“Guys are a little sore today, to say the least,” Klein said.

Klein said the field wasn’t game-ready until 2 a.m., but there are no issues with it today. Crew members arrived as early as 5 a.m. and they have redone the base paths and brought in new dirt for the infield.

-- Drew Davison

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