“I learned that from Paul Runge,” Marsh said. “He used to put cabbage leaves in the hat. He had me do it when I worked with him. I don’t know if I noticed it, maybe psychologically. But a lot of guys thought that it worked better than the sun beating on your head.”
The multipurpose stadiums with artificial turf that came into vogue in the 1970s were especially brutal. Onfield temperatures at Riverfront Stadium, for example, were measured above 150 degrees. Waves of heat snaked off the field like a griddle.
During one series in Cincinnati in July 1997, Greg Maddux got so hot and mentally discombobulated that he took himself out of a game after six innings. The plastic on the bottom of infielder Jeff Blauser’s cleats started to melt. Players said it burned their hands to touch the turf.
“George Hendrick used to tell us when he played in St. Louis, he used three pairs of shoes,” Marsh said. “He kept two on a big bucket of ice and would change shoes every inning because it was so hot on that turf.”
Umpires could get so dehydrated that their fingers would wrinkle. Sometimes, the plate umpire overheated and had to be replaced. Now, training staffs are aware of their need to keep drinking fluids. Plus, with the multipurpose turf stadiums replaced by grass fields, those blistering days aren’t nearly so bad.
“When they went to grass, it made all the difference in the world,” Tschida said.
The high-tech cooling packs have ramped down the heat even more.
“It’s been a welcome, welcome addition to our equipment bags, that’s for sure,” Tschida said.<< previous 1 2 3