‘Like pitching in a rainforest’: MLB fans and players struggle in brutal heatwave

Even for a sport that promotes high heat, Saturday was a scorcher across the major leagues as high temperatures gripped large parts of North America

At Wrigley Field, mist machines tried to cool the crowd. At Yankee Stadium, only one player took batting practice on the field. In Cleveland, rules were relaxed on what fans could bring into the park. Even for a sport that promotes high heat, Saturday was a scorcher across the majors. The National Weather Service said it was part of a dangerous heat wave gripping much of the country.


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Hours before Baltimore played Boston at sweltering Camden Yards, Orioles manager Brandon Hyde pulled aside starting catcher Chance Sisco and issued a stiff directive. I told Chance, I dont want him hustling on and off the field. I want to see him walking, Hyde said. When youre a catcher in these type of games, its not easy. After the eighth inning, his face was beet red. It was 97F (36C) for the first pitch and no relief in sight, either. The temperature was forecast to top 100F for Sunday afternoons series finale.

In Chicago, where it was 94F (34C) when the Cubs started against San Diego, there was a big ovation in the seventh inning for the weather. Thats when the wind suddenly shifted and began blowing in. The temperature immediately dropped and many in the crowd of 40,314 cheered the wind in the Windy City.

For those sitting in the stands with no cover, it was hard to take. Jaclyn Jendrisak was in town from St Louis for a bachelor and bachelorette party. Fortunately for her group, the Cubs created a cooling station in right field. Standing in the shade, have some air conditioning blowing on us. Were sticking to water and not having beer. Its helping a little bit, she said.

A young fan runs through a fountain to cool off before the game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Diego Padres at Wrigley Field. Photograph: Quinn Harris/USA Today Sports

Temperatures in New York City on Saturday reached around 96F (35C) but the heat index, which combines heat and humidity meant it felt like 110F (43C). The Yankees set up supplemental hydration stations, and made announcements over the public address system reminding fans to keep drinking water. Chris Del Vecchio from Verona, New Jersey, and his friend Bruna Silva walked around the ballpark with bags of ice on their neck and shoulders as the Yankees beat Colorado 11-5.

Sitting in the bleachers is where our seats are and we made it about two innings, they scored about six runs, so it kind of extended those innings and made it seem a little longer. But, its pretty brutal out there, Del Vecchio said.

Injured Yankees outfielder Cameron Maybin was the only player who took batting practice on the field. In the steamy conditions, Colorados Tony Wolters had the bat accidentally slip from his hands on a swing and sail into the Yankees dugout.

It was fine when we were walking on the grass, but as soon as you got to the plate it was like a cone of heat. It was awful, Yankees catcher Austin Romine said. It was a struggle out there.


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At Progressive Field, the Cleveland Indians eased the regulations on what fans could carry into the ballpark. Empty thermos bottles were permitted for the game against Kansas City. They didnt have Gatorade when I played, Royals manager Ned Yost recalled. No, we didnt have the knowledge about hydration back then. It was take a couple salt pills and drink a little bit of water. We didnt know anything about hydrating.

The Red Sox didnt take batting practice Friday or Saturday, and planned to skip the session Sunday in Baltimore. Youve got to be smart in the way you spend your energy, manager Alex Cora said. Its that part of the schedule. We knew we were going to run into something like this. And we did.

The weather began to break in some arewas. A day after it was 94F when Minnesota hosted Oakland the second-hottest start in Target Fields 10-year history it was about 20 degrees cooler in the Twin Cities. On Friday night, All-Star pitcher Jake Odorizzi struggled with the As lineup and the humidity. It was only like pitching in a rain forest, he said.

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