|Rattlesnake takes right field, halts FSL game
|A three-foot rattlesnake (shown here behind the ourfield wall, delayed a Florida State League game for 15 minutes.
By Chuck King
JUPITER, Fla. – An angel in the outfield it was not.
Palm Beach’s Florida State League game against Jupiter Friday night was delayed 15 minutes when a rattlesnake came onto the field.
Stadium officials noticed the three-foot rattlesnake coiled near electrical equipment just behind the right field wall minutes before the start of the game.
General manager Brian Barnes warned both teams about the potential danger behind the wall.
“Give your right fielder a heads up, if they are back in the general area and the ball goes off the wall, don’t get too close to the fence,” Barnes told the coaches.
It didn’t take long for the snake to come into play. Jupiter’s Dante Brinkley, the second batter of the game, lined a double down the right field line.
Palm Beach outfielder Nathan Southard chased down the ball after it bounded off the wall.
“I was like, no way! This fly ball is going to the rattlesnake.” said Southard, who’d walked back to the fence to see the snake before the start of the game. It didn’t but it was close.”
Southard retrieved the ball and sent it back into the infield without incident.
The rattler behind him was in the back of his mind for the next two innings.
“After that, I saw some guys back there looking at it trying to figure out what they were going to do with it,” Southard said. “I could here it rattling then, all the way from right field.”
The snake finally slid onto the field in the second inning, halting play for fifteen minutes.
During the break in action, sound man Dave Sachs treated the crowd to a stream of songs by 80s heavy metal band Whitesnake.
Southard, along with members of the Cardinals bullpen, offered to kill the snake with a shovel, but were told animal rescue was on the way.
With play stopped, Cardinals players gathered in the outfield – keeping their distance – and fans gathered on the right field berm trying to catch a glimpse of the slithery intruder.
“(The crowd) was saying just pick it up and get it off the field,” said Barnes, and I’m thinking, I’m not getting close to that.”
Barnes called the nearby Busch Wildlife Sanctuary to capture the snake. Once the representative arrived, it took less than two minutes
This was the second time in the complex’s ten-year history a snake has come onto the field. In 1998 a non-poisonous snake took the field before the start of a game, but it was removed before the start of the game and didn’t cause a delay.
Workers have found rattlesnakes on the Roger Dean Stadium complex before, but never at the main stadium.
“It was different,” said Jupiter right fielder Kris Harvey, who was also willing to take care of the snake with a shovel. “I’ve never seen a snake on the field, especially a rattlesnake.”
Following the game, public address announcer John Frost gave the official attendance: 1528 fans and one snake.
“I’ve just never see that before,” Palm Beach manager Gaylen Pitts, who’s been in baseball for more than 40 years. “You hate to have a delay of any kind, especially when your pitcher is out there just standing around. I was hoping it wouldn’t last that long, which it didn’t.”
Jupiter won the game 2-0
Barnes said the Cardinals are already working on a promotion revolving around rattlesnakes for an upcoming game.
Check out my blog for more on Rattlesnakes and other strange baseball stories.