If there’s a sequel to Bull Durham, the Lexington Legends can contribute part of the script.
Any story about life in the minor leagues could be enhanced by the Legends recent road trip to Charleston and Savannah – especially the return trip to Lexington.
There were three rainouts and two doubleheaders on the seven-game trip as the Legends took on the RiverDogs and Sand Gnats – but rainouts and doubleheaders are part of the minor league routine. It was the trip from Savannah to Lexington where the journey became movie-worthy.
A rainout of the final game of the trip, Monday, July 21, meant that the Legends could start home about two hours earlier than expected. The team boarded the bus and left the Savannah ballpark at about 8:30 Monday night. Some 15 minutes later, the bus began to chug along as it crossed the bridge into South Carolina. The engine died, and we managed to coast to the end of the bridge and then to the side of the road – where we remained for the next three hours.
With no air conditioning on a typical mid-July night in South Carolina, the bus soon became warm. Very warm. Just step outside, right? Even a hot, humid -- and rainy -- night would be much better than sitting on a bus where the temperature was climbing well beyond the mid-80s on the outside -- wouldn't it?
Did you know there are mosquitoes in South Carolina?
The driver got off the bus to take a look in back and see if a quick repair could be made, and left the door open so that we could have some air on the bus. The five minutes that the door was open led to about 15 minutes of fast-paced mosquito-killing. But the mosquitoes got their licks in, too. After that, many of the guys decided to wait it out on the bus, but some ventured out occasionally. Opinions were mixed on whether it was worth it to do that.
As the temperature continued to rise, someone posed a question: “Would you rather sit on this bus for another 30 minutes, or be mauled by tigers?”
A response: “How big are the tigers?”
Another player drew a comparison to extended spring training in Arizona.
Calls were being made to get a replacement bus, but unless you happen to break down near a bus terminal, replacement buses don’t arrive right away. So the wait continued.
We discovered we had taken on a few hundred more passengers – fire ants. After people walked around outside and then re-boarded the bus, the ants came in with them. Fire ants bite. Some of the Legends are still feeling the effects several days later.
The pouring rain outside became less relevant, because we all looked like we had been standing in the rain whether we had been outside or not.
A local tour bus arrived around midnight. We left the 100-degree shelter of our bus to take on the mosquitoes, unloaded our bus, loaded the bags on the tour bus, and drove to a truck stop a few miles away to wait for the bus that would take us back to Lexington. We unloaded the bags from the tour bus – and waited. The replacement bus arrived at about 2 a.m. We loaded the bags on that bus, and settled in for the nine-and-a-half hour trip to Lexington. We arrived at Whitaker Bank Ballpark at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday, about 15 hours after leaving the ballpark in Savannah.
There was no game Tuesday night, but you didn’t hear it called an “off day.”
The Legends started a homestand a day later – against the RiverDogs and the SandGnats. We’re hoping there won’t be a re-match with the mosquitoes and the fire ants.