By Mason Kelley
GoHuskies.com Contributing Writer
It wouldn’t be baseball season in the Northwest without a little rain. And on a blustery Tuesday evening, with a steady downpour soaking the Husky Ballpark turf, Washington experienced its first rain delay at the new-look stadium.
With the first pitch moved back 30 minutes, a tarp was placed on the mound. Fans huddled under cover, while players sought shelter in their comfortable new home.
I settled into a seat indoors, finding a spot the in the press box. The video board down the left-field line displayed a rain delay graphic. As I looked around the Huskies’ latest facility upgrade – it rivals some minor league parks – I couldn’t help but think about the past.
It was 2002. I was a junior in college, a student assistant in Washington’s athletic communications office. I was asked if I wanted to work a few baseball games. It sounded like fun.
I don’t remember much about the games. I couldn’t tell you which teams the Huskies played. But I will always remember the experience.
The first game I worked was much like Tuesday evening – cold and rainy. I climbed into the press box, a scaffolding platform with a tented roof. My assignment was to run the scoreboard.
With Washington fans checking my work – if the balls, strikes, outs or score weren’t updated quickly and accurately, I heard about it – I ran the board while attempting to keep warm.
There was a small propane heater that was used sparingly and, when it rained, it was difficult to see through the press box’s plastic covering that kept the water out. But I didn’t complain. I was getting paid to watch baseball and eat hot dogs cooked in a contraption called the Hot Diggity Dogger.
Since graduating from Washington, I’ve worked in press boxes from Bakersfield, Calif. to Miami. I’ve covered baseball at every level, from Kansas City star Eric Hosmer’s high school career at American Heritage in Plantation, Fla. to Evan Longoria’s first minor league games and even a few Felix Hernandez starts at Safeco Field.
But I will never forget the days spent running the scoreboard at Husky Ballpark.
Now, 12 years later, I was back at the stadium, the scaffolding replaced by an intimate 2,400-seat facility that features a comfortable suite and press box level.
After thinking about the past, I watched Washington’s present and future knock off Gonzaga, 7-1. The Huskies weathered a 20-minute rain delay after the third inning and improved to 14-1 over their last 15 games.
At times rain came down in sideways sheets, but there was plenty of room for fans to watch under cover as the Huskies improved to 4-0 at their home park.
With Lake Washington visible on the other side of the outfield wall, dark clouds floated overhead as dusk faded to night. There was an ominous beauty in the stormy setting.
The weather wasn’t ideal, but at Washington's new pristine palace, it didn’t matter. That’s just part of playing baseball in the Northwest.