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Why weather keeps throwing MLB curveballs and how it impacted 6 memorable games

By John Roach, AccuWeather staff writer
March 21, 2019, 11:53:04 AM EDT

Baseball snow

Seattle Mariners designated hitter Jose Vidro, front, from left, Jose Lopez, Adrian Beltre, and Richie Sexson lay in the snow at Jacobs Field, Sunday, April 8, 2007, in Cleveland as the second game of their series was postponed. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

It was an announcement heard somewhat infrequently at foul-weather sporting events directed at overeager home fans. “Ladies and gentlemen, please refrain from throwing snowballs onto the playing field. Anyone throwing snowballs onto the playing field will be subject to ejection."

Football fans can be tough. But the announcement had nothing to do with them.

It was directed toward Chicago Cubs fans at Wrigley Field during an April baseball game in 1982. Ahhh, hope and snowballs spring eternal.

Baseball spans parts of three meteorological seasons, making it subject to rain, snow, hurricanes, blizzards, extreme heat and more.

The likelihood of severe weather occurring during games has been helped by an expanding Major League Baseball schedule that now ranges from late March until possibly early November. It didn't use to be that way.

On April 16, 1940, Bob Feller threw the only opening-day no-hitter; in 2019, the official opening day will be March 28, the earliest ever. And in 1954, the final game of the World Series was played on Oct. 2; in 2018, the first game of the entire playoffs was on Oct. 2.

The result of the longer schedule? In 2018, MLB had 54 weather-related postponements during the 2018 regular season, the most since 1989 (58) and the second-most dating to 1986, according to Michael Teevan, MLB vice president of communications. MLB’s weather-related records beyond the 1980s are less reliable.

“The reason that you have more delays and postponements is because the MLB season has been lengthening,” said AccuWeather founder and CEO Dr. Joel N. Myers. “People think that the weather is more severe, but that is the real reason that there were more postponements in 2018. When you start earlier and end later, you are going to run into snow and more rain and cold weather."

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Seven of the 30 MLB teams have a dome or retractable roof, but several teams in cold-weather cities do not, including both Chicago teams, Colorado, Detroit, Boston and Minnesota. The Twins do, however, have two meteorologists on staff who witnessed four games in 2018 postponed by snow.

“We had a three-game set with the White Sox the weekend we got the April blizzard,” Mace Michaels, who splits duties with Todd Nelson, told AccuWeather. “It was quite a storm to see, let alone in April, when we normally only get an inch or so when it snows. We missed all three games.”

The expanded schedule and the vagaries of weather have created unforgettable moments for baseball fans. Here are six memorable MLB games impacted by the weather.

The 2007 Cleveland Indians home opener

Snow put a halt – and then some – to the Cleveland Indians' April 6, 2007 home opener against the Seattle Mariners as the teams made it to the top of the fifth inning before the game was called. The grounds crew, using snow blowers and brooms, spent more time on the field than the players during nearly three hours of stoppages, according to ESPN. Games the next two days were also postponed by snow, so the Indians moved their next home series versus the Angels to Milwaukee’s Miller Park, which has a retractable roof.

The coldest MLB game

Snow also played a role in the coldest game in MLB history, as Colorado Rockies officials and volunteers shoveled snow from Coors Field prior to their April 23, 2013, game against the visiting Atlanta Braves. The snow was nothing compared to the cold – an MLB-record-low temperature of 23 degrees Fahrenheit. The Rockies already had three postponements on the schedule, so they forged on, finishing the game in just 2 hours and 37 minutes – and even played the second game of the doubleheader when it had warmed up to 30 degrees.

The 2 hottest MLB games

At the other extreme, the Texas Rangers hosted the two hottest games in MLB history. On Aug. 26, 1988, it was 109 degrees when the Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays in a brisk 2 hours and 41 minutes. Toronto wilted in the heat, collecting just two hits in the 5-1 loss. And eight years earlier, the Rangers beat the Twins on June 27, 1980, when it was again 109 degrees.

World Series extremes

World Series Astros Dodgers Baseball

This is what it looks like to pitch in 100-plus degree heat. Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw was a sweaty mess in the dugout after pitching one inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Houston Astros on Oct. 24, 2017, in Los Angeles. The game-time temperature was a World Series record of 103 degrees. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Go figure: The first World Series in Florida would include the coldest recorded game in World Series history. Cleveland had something to do with that. While Game 1 saw a temperature of 84 degrees in Miami, Game 4 in Cleveland on Oct. 22, 1997, included snow during batting practice, a gametime temperature of 38 degrees and wind chill readings during the game as low as 18 degrees.

At the other extreme, Game 1 of the 2017 World Series between visiting Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers saw a World Series record-high gametime temperature of 103 degrees on Oct. 24, 2017. The teams played at a blistering pace, with the game finishing in just 2 hours and 28 minutes.

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