Ice bags were being passed around the dugouts at Lindquist Field last Wednesday like drinks at a party on frat row. Pitchers were icing their shoulders, as were the hitters, while the coaches were just trying to ease the throbbing pain that seemed to burn a hole through their temples.
It was on that night that fans who came to the ballpark didn't get what they paid for. Instead of a baseball game they saw some sort of freakish sport that looked more like a cross between home-run derby and hot potato.The Ogden Raptors and Butte Copper Kings treated - no, force-fed - the fans one of the greatest offensive explosions this side of the Arena Football League. The two teams combined for 42 runs as the Raptors won 27-15.
Pitchers were being torn apart, while the hitters grew tired and sore from swinging their bats so many times. But the runs didn't stop coming.
"It was dragging," said Ogden manager Ed Sedar. "It got to a point where I just wished the thing would end, but you can't tell guys not to swing the bat."
But it wasn't all the hitters' fault. The Butte defense was equally to blame in what Sedar referred to as a "mess."
The game featured a total of 10 errors, nine of which were committed by Butte. It was like the Copper King fielders were trying to catch marbles in a fish net. On the rare occasion they did get a glove on the ball, they couldn't hold it long enough to throw the runner out.
"They gave us nine extra outs," said Sedar. "And every time they made an error, it seemed the next guy up got a home run or a double or something. When you play like that, things like this can happen."
Throw in all the errors, a total of 10 pitchers and 35 hits and you get a grand total of 3 hours and 45 minutes worth of bad ball.
"After third hour, that's enough," said Raptors' second baseman Jeff Pickler. "The game's not fun no matter how many hits you get after three hours. By then you just want to go home."
Many can sympathize with Pickler.
Hollie Knudson thinks of herself as a baseball purist; the type that loves good pitching, great defense and situational hitting.
As the official scorekeeper for the Raptors - a position she has held for the past two seasons - Knudson had no choice but to stay and watch what can only be compared to a car wreck.
"I like games that are 2-1, no errors and are over in two hours. This game was just ugly," said Knduson. "I just kept thinking this can't be for real. It was a scorekeeper's worst nightmare."
Knudson's scorebook looked more like a road map when she was finished, with so many runs, errors hits and pitching changes to keep track of.
"Before that game, I had never been a fan at or watched on TV or been a part of a game like that," said Knudson. "It got so bad I just wanted to leave. Whenever there were two outs I just kept saying, `Please catch this ball. Please get this out.' Normally I love sitting at games, but this one was just aw-ful."
One person would disagree, however.
Carlos Ponce is the hitting coach for the Raptors, which is basically like an offensive coordinator in football.
For him, Wednesday was like winning the lottery.
"We don't want guys to take pitches. We want them to stay aggressive," said Ponce. "It was one of those games hitters can boom their ego and break out of a slump."
Ponce loved that on four separate occasions the Raptors brought all nine batters to the plate in a single inning. The more that happens, the better it is for him. Besides, to Ponce the 42-run effort paled in comparison to his greatest feat of all time.
"I was part of the famous 35-20 game in the Texas League," said Ponce. "In 1983 I was with El Paso and we beat the Borino Padres in the longest game I've ever been in. Nobody would get out. That's still the Texas League record."
Fifteen years later, Ponce was at it again.
"These types of games are rare and they're easy to remember," said Ponce. "It's fun when it happens because it's so unexpected. I'll never tell a guy to take pitches. I want then swinging no matter what the score is."
One player, Osbido Brito, even hit for the rare cycle. His triple in the seventh innings gave him the elusive honor.
Only 2,290 fans were at the game, and many didn't make it through the night. Sedar, Pickler and Knudson don't blame those who left as each made it clear that if not for their jobs, they to would have skipped out.
"Now I can tell people that I was a scorekeeper for a 27-15 game but that's the only good thing about it," said Knudson. "I saw it once and that's enough. I never want to sit through a game like that again."