Booming thunder surprises teams

Updated: July 9, 2012, 11:42 AM ET
By Jeff Caplan | ESPNDallas.com

ARLINGTON, Texas -- The Texas Rangers boast the fabled Boomstick and the majors' most explosive offense. Yet, the fury unleashed from a darkening night sky Sunday at Rangers Ballpark had no rival.

A sudden and blinding flash of lightning seemingly directly above the stadium lights was followed instantaneously by a sonic boom-like crash of thunder, sending unsuspecting players, coaches and umpires instinctively sprinting to the dugouts and ducking for cover in utter confusion.

"I thought I was a spirit; I thought I was dead," is how Rangers manager Ron Washington, who was perched in his usual seat behind the railing of the first base dugout, described his initial reaction when the strike occurred early in Texas' eventual 4-3 win in 13 innings over the Minnesota Twins.

"That was the loudest thunder I've ever heard in my life," Rangers first baseman Michael Young said. "(Twins base runner Josh) Willingham hit the deck. I turned around and he was doing a dirt angel on the floor. Their first base coach (Jerry White) was going bananas and hid behind the umpire."

With one out in a 0-0 game in the top of the fourth inning, Willingham was on at first and Ryan Doumit was at the plate. Rangers pitcher Roy Oswalt was on the mound. There were storms to the north headed toward the ballpark and the wind had begun to pick up, strong enough for the Rangers' PA announcer to encourage fans seated in the upper decks to make their way to the lower decks.

There was even a flash of lightning and a loud thunder clap prior to the big one, but nothing that could have warned of the frightening visual and audio sensation to come.

Rangers catcher Mike Napoli certainly wasn't prepared for it.

As the flash-and-crash occurred, Napoli bounded out of his crouch behind the plate and began sprinting toward the Rangers dugout as if running for his life.

"I don't know really what I was doing," Napoli said. "It just kind of freaked me out so I just started running to the dugout and went for cover, but I don't think that helped anything. It was so quick and you see the flash and the bang and, I don't know, I just started running for some odd reason to the dugout."

Young was holding Willingham on at first base.

"I saw the lightning, but the thunder was instant, it was a split-second after that," Young said. "Apart from the world ending, I knew it was thunder. It was nuts. That was very, very loud. That's really all I can say. I've never really heard anything that loud in my life."

The jarring sequence stopped play as everyone looked around to gather themselves. Quickly, the grounds crew started to roll out the tarp even though it wasn't raining. Rangers infielders Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler and Young gathered on the right side of the infield and couldn't help but nervously laugh and try to make sense of what had just happened.

Meanwhile, the grounds crew stopped rolling out the tarp and stood at attention in shallow left field waiting for further instruction.

Before play could be resumed, the rain came, ushering a 46-minute delay, and both teams headed to their respective clubhouses where the first thing they did was go to the replay.

"During the delay we looked at the replay at least 30 times from every possible angle," Young said. "It was funny seeing everybody's reaction."

Said Napoli: "We watched the video probably about 40 times, just watching everybody on the field, and every time we watched it we cracked up laughing."

Twins right fielder Ben Revere tweeted during the delay: "My heart stopped when I heard the thunder at the stadium. Glad no one heard me scream like a little girl too!! Lol."

Now that's going into the All-Star break with a bang.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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