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Thursday, March 24, 2005
Updated: March 25, 1:15 PM ET
Oliver says bees attracted to his hair gel

Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. -- A swarm of bees invaded the field on Thursday and forced a game between the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks to be called after five innings.

I love this game, but I like myself a little bit more.
Darren Oliver

The bees literally chased Rockies pitcher Darren Oliver from the mound. He kept trying to go back on the mound, but the bees would go after him again. Finally, he left for good and let another pitcher complete the inning.

"I love this game," Oliver said, "but I like myself a little bit more."

Oliver said the bees apparently were attracted to the coconut oil in his hair gel.

"I guess I must have smelled good. It was kind of funny at first, but after a while I started getting a little nervous and scared out there," he said.

The Diamondbacks took the field in the sixth, but by then the bees had spread over the entire field. Shortstop Sergio Santos, who had just entered the game, was chased all the way into deep center field.

"There were like little packs moving around," said Arizona's Luis Gonzalez, who hit his first homer of the spring in the first inning and was on third after a triple when the bee-delay occurred. "They were all over the pitcher, and Santos when he went out. I think it was either their cologne or deodorant or something. They've got to switch it up."

There was a brief bee delay at the same ballpark two years ago.

Darren Oliver
Darren Oliver ran for safety after bees buzzed by him a little too close for comfort.

But Joe Garagiola Sr., attending the game with his son, Diamondbacks general manager Joe Garagiola Jr., said he had never seen anything like Thursday's invasion.

"And I go back to 1942," the elder Garagiola said.

Garagiola Jr. briefly conferred with home plate umpire Larry Poncino, then the game was called.

"It got to be a safety issue," Garagiola Jr. said. "The bees were all over the field. They were on the mound, they were in the outfield, they were out at shortstop, and we just couldn't continue play."

There were no reports of players or anyone in the crowd of 8,029 being stung.

There have been increasing reports of emergency calls involving swarming bees in the Phoenix and Tucson areas in recent weeks.

"It seemed like wherever anybody went, a swarm of them popped up," Colorado catcher J.D. Closser said. "They've had some rough times down here the last couple of weeks with some bee attacks, so I don't that's a thing you want to mess with too much."

Arizona center fielder Jose Cruz Jr. first noticed the bees and was chased from his position during a pitch. The bees then moved to the first base area in the next half-inning, where the Rockies' Todd Helton swatted them away. Then they zeroed in on Oliver.