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Rare hailstorm delays Tigers and Twins

May 10, 2011

By Jordan Schelling / MLB.com

MINNEAPOLIS — When Tuesday’s game began at Target Field, it was an unseasonably warm 87 degrees and very humid, but it was an otherwise beautiful evening for baseball.That all changed about an hour into the game when severe storms started rolling into the area. Dark skies poured rain down on the Tigers and Twins, causing the game to be stopped at 8:17 p.m. CT, during the bottom of the fourth inning, and things got even more interesting during the 62-minute delay.

As tornado warnings were issued for the area and funnel clouds were spotted in other parts of the city, rain gave way to hail, ranging in size from pebbles to golf balls, which covered the field.

“That was a first in the big leagues, no doubt,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said of the hail delay.

Gardenhire was not the only one who saw a hail delay for the first time. On both sides, players who were asked about it said they’d never seen anything like it.

“I’ve never seen that. It was big. First time for me that I’ve seen that in a game,” said the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta, who has spent his career in the American League Central and has seen plenty of wintry weather during games. “I’ve seen everything. I’ve seen a lot of snow. I’ve seen ice rain.”

A good portion of the delay was due to the time needed to clear the hailstones from the field. In addition to putting down Quick Dry on wet spots in the infield, the grounds crew grabbed rakes, shovels and buckets to collect the hailstones that had fallen in the outfield and in foul territory. Detroit won the game, 10-2.

Twins designated hitter Jason Kubel thought the hailstorm was fitting, considering everything else that has gone wrong this season for the club.

“It just makes perfect sense,” Kubel said. “Why not?”

Many had fun with the storm, including a few players.

Young fans could be seen throughout various parts of the stadium having the hail equivalent of snowball fights, tossing the small balls of ice at each other.

In the visitors’ dugout, Tigers ace Justin Verlander could be seen tossing hailstones back onto the field. Later, Verlander broke out the fungo bat and took a few swings as teammate Phil Coke pitched the balls of ice to him.

“They were big ones,” Tigers manager Jim Leyland said of the hail. “When somebody talks about golf ball-sized hail, that was it, to the fact.”

Jordan Schelling is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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