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Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Bossard conquers 23-year flood

By Doug Padilla

CHICAGO -- It wasn't the 100-year flood that fell from the sky over U.S. Cellular Field on Monday night, but it was unprecedented nonetheless.

Chicago White Sox head groundskeeper said 2 3/4 inches of rain fell overnight, according to a rain-collection device he uses at the ballpark, and he estimates that at the height of the storm, which shortened Monday's game to seven innings, a total of 1 1/4 inches fell in an hour.

"In 23 years we've been here I never remember seeing that," Bossard said Tuesday while overlooking a field that was essentially dry. "That was amazing last night. It came down that hard."

The drainage system underneath the playing surface at U.S. Cellular Field is Bossard's own design and one that he has installed in other ballparks around baseball. It consists of a 10-inch layer of sand under the turf and at least 2 miles worth of 4-inch drainage pipes that crisscross below ground.

"In all the years I have been here I have never seen as much water lying on the field as last night," Bossard said. "Literally most of right field and part of right-center was under water. You have to remember that I have a percolation rate of over 30 inches an hour. I can take that kind of rain, but it came down that hard and that fast."

A new drainage system up and down the first- and third-base sides, underneath the warning track, that was installed in the offseason, also helped.

"In the past, if we had rains like that, the tunnels to the batting cages behind the dugout are flooded, water is coming up, the catch basin tops are popping off," Bossard said. "We didn't have that yesterday. All the drains paid off."

Not only was the field dry and ready to play on Tuesday, Bossard was able to boast that it had been playable for a good long while.

"To be quite honest, probably an hour or an hour and a half after the rains stopped we could have played," Bossard said. "If you have a deluge like that, that one-inch microburst in 20 minutes, literally in 20-25 minutes you can play."