Nationals 1, Yankees 0(4)

BY foxsports • June 19, 2009

Wearing a brand-new Derek Jeter jersey, Travis Como could only munch on a hot dog and hope. This was his one chance to see a game at Yankee Stadium - whether he would all depended on the weather.

Like the Washington Nationals and New York Yankees, Como had to wait out a rain delay Thursday.

A really, really long rain delay.

Scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m., the game did not start until 6:31 p.m. By then, afternoon had turned to dusk, though it was hard to tell because the skies were gray all day.

"The whole way down on the bus, I was saying, 'No! This can't be happening!"' said Como, whose grandparents gave him a trip from Minnesota as his high school graduation present. "The stadium is beautiful. The hot dogs are great. But this weather, it's miserable."

About 10,000 people were sprinkled around the ballpark for Joba Chamberlain's first pitch. After the Nationals batted, the Yankees announced fans could move down from the upper decks, setting off a stampede toward the $2,625 seats in the front row. Ushers moved back those who made it that far.

There is no official record of the longest rain delay in major league history, but this pause of 5 hours, 26 minutes certainly ranked right up there.

The start of a pennant-race game on the final day of the 1999 regular season between Cincinnati and Milwaukee was delayed 5 hours, 47 minutes at County Stadium.

And last October, Game 5 of the World Series between Tampa Bay and Philadelphia was held up for nearly two days after rain forced a suspension in the sixth inning.

These steady showers were part of the same storm system that prompted the first round of the U.S. Open on Long Island to be suspended well before noon. So instead of golf, clubhouse TVs were tuned to The Weather Channel.

A big reason the Nationals and Yankees waited so long was because it would've been difficult to reschedule.

"No mutual off-days, it's tough," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said shortly after 11 a.m.

This was the final meeting of their three-game interleague series, and the teams have only one common day off the rest of the season - that's next Monday, when the Yankees are between trips to Florida and Atlanta, and the Nationals are in the middle of a homestand.

The Nationals and Yankees originally were off Sept. 14, but New York now has a rainout makeup against the Los Angeles Angels that day.

Washington returns to New York on Sept. 18-20 to play the Mets, but the Yankees are at Seattle that weekend.

Stung by criticism over how they handled a long rain delay earlier this season, Yankees management kept updating fans every half-hour or so on the game's status.

Yankees stars Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia and Nick Swisher appeared on the video board, thanking fans for their patience. Frequent announcements were made over the public-address system and posted on the scoreboard.

"We want to play, just as much as you want to see us play. So hang in there," Teixeira said in a message. The delay was so long, his recording was shown twice.

A few members of the grounds crew walked onto the field around 2:45 p.m., drawing cheers from the several thousand fans under cover. But as soon as the workers came out, the rain started to fall harder and the tarp stayed down.

Later, there was an announcement the game would begin around 4 p.m., but the showers never stopped. Fans bided their time at the concession stands and souvenir shops, but became more antsy as the hours wore on and booed later updates.

Several other games around the majors were shown on the video board during the delay, including the end of the Chicago Cubs' win over the White Sox.

On May 4, there was a rain delay of more than two hours before the Yankees lost to Boston in a game that ended at 1:10 a.m. Fans weren't told whether the game would be played, and some people who left the ballpark weren't let back inside once it began.

Como and his grandparents sat underneath the overhang during the delay. They got tickets six weeks ago, and traveled down with a group from upstate Troy, N.Y.

They were ready to wait, no matter how long it took.

"The tour operator said the bus will leave a half-hour after the game is over," grandmother Violet Kelm said. "So if they wait until late tonight to finish, we'll be here. What are you going to do?"

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