The day was July 8, 2012. The Rangers snapped a five-game losing streak the previous night and looked to head to the All-Star break on a multi-game winning streak. Also, seven Rangers packed their bags for Kansas City for the 2012 mid-summer classic (Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre, Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Elvis Andrus, Matt Harrison, and Yu Darvish). However, the crowd of 43,268 didn’t expect Mother Nature’s wrath in the fourth inning.
The Rangers and Twins played a rare night game on that Sunday night (it wasn’t nationally televised), and Texas sent Roy Oswalt to take the hill (remember him as a Ranger?). For the first three innings, Oswalt shut down the Twins offense allowing only three hits and no walks. However, the Rangers offense scuffled against the rookie Minnesota native, Cole De Vries who threw seven shutout innings that night.
It was a scoreless game in the fourth, Oswalt walked Josh Willingham on six-pitch at-bat, and Ryan Doumit stepped to the plate. On a 2-2 count, all of this sudden a deafening noise that caused the whole stadium’s ears to ring hit the ballpark. Almost everyone jumped out of their seats and took cover, unsure of what or where the noise came from. After a minute to recuperate, we came to the consensus that it was a massive clap of thunder.
I was sitting about two or three rows back in right field near the triangle with my brother. I took a video of the previous inning, the wind started to pick up, and the temperature cooled off rapidly. However, I recall there was never any threat of storms, at least according to the forecast. Immediately after that clap of thunder, the tarp came on the field, and a rainless delay began. Shortly a pouring of rain fell at the ballpark and fans took cover. The delay lasted less than an hour (46 minutes to be exact), and baseball was back on.
Even hours after the delay, all the conversations around us were about what happened in the fourth inning. It was the loudest noise I have ever heard in my entire life and assumed the lightning hit right at the ballpark. However, my brother and I found out that the specific lightning and thunder was miles away, creating somewhat relief, but a little disappointment.
*from the Minnesota Twins feed
I had a chance this past week to talk to former Ranger, David Murphy, about that night and the experience on the field and in the clubhouse. “We went in and watched the replay over and over again and watched everyone’s individual reaction.” Murphy recalled. “Pretty much everybody hit the deck, but we’re laughing at Kinsler cause he didn’t really react. If you go back and watch [Jerry White, Twins first base coach]’s reaction that was the most classic reaction out of everybody. Usually players in any circumstances will wait to be told to get off the field, it was funny because everybody just started leaving the field right away.”
*SportsCenter feed the next morning
I also caught up with Elvis Andrus on Saturday to relive the moment that night. “I remember the lightning, and I remember the first base coach, and his face, and Napoli’s face, it was hilarious. There’s always going to be a picture in my head. I’m not scared of lightning, it always happens in Venezuela, but that one scared a lot of people that day.” Elvis also talked about himself, Murphy, Beltre, and Kinsler staying on the field after the lightning strike, “After that happened, it’s all good like people are still screaming and all that and well we already went through the hardest part which is the lightning and after that it’s like, let’s go [and] let’s continue to play. You get scared through the moment but after that, it’s over.” Talking with other Rangers personnel, for example, Rangers reporter Emily Jones who stated that Mike Napoli’s dash to the dugout is the first thing that comes to her mind.
After the chaos with mother nature, things on the field got exciting late. The game went to the ninth inning in a 1-0 Twins lead. Minnesota added two more in the ninth, but the Rangers took advantage of a Brian Dozier error. After the Rangers got on the board, Michael Young delivered a two-out two-run single on an 0-2 count to tie the game at three.
The game later went to thirteen innings as the Rangers faced a golden chance with the bases loaded and one out. Ian Kinsler finished the night with a walk-off sacrifice fly. It ended a four and a half-hour game (not including the delay), as the Rangers All-Star break began on a high note and 45 minutes before midnight. The screeching of the fans was loud, but the cheering didn’t compare to the burst of audio from that one clap of thunder. I can tell you this, that night everyone scurried to find their Thunder Buddy!
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