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History Lesson: getting tough with bugs

Jun 2, 2009, 10:02 AM EDT

If you watched last night’s Yankees-Indians game you noticed that Joba
Chamberlain was bothered far more by the insects than he was by any of
the Indians’ hitters. And, if you didn’t have the good sense to mute
the broadcast, you heard Steve Phillips and Co. go on and on and on
about the famous “midge” game from the 2007 Division Series. I watched
enough of the game to get the gist, but whenever the announcers kept
going back to that and their two or three other tired topics that
didn’t have much to do with the game, I flipped over to something far more worth my time.

Anyway, the game’s events have tHeMARksMiTh looking back fondly at a time when grounds crews knew how to deal with bugs:

The night was June 2, 1959, and the Baltimore Orioles called upon
the Chicago White Sox. Before the game started, gnats swarmed around
pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm. The grounds crew came out and started batting at
them with a towel, but it didn’t work. Then, they went to find bug
spray, but that wasn’t the answer, either (sound familiar?). Finally,
they get a bright idea. Smoke bombs! Attaching them to the fireworks
display, the grounds crew set them off. Smoke covered the field, and
the game was delayed a half an hour. However, the smoke cleared and the
gnats were gone.

I suppose if they did that today there would be lawsuits and OSHA
complaints and everything. But this is baseball we’re talking about
here, and baseball is important.

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