Jackets staffers built wall in time for game

Director of stadium operations David Ryther Jr. (right), groundskeeper Zach Baker and two other team staffers, worked 14 hours to build a 50-foot portion of a new wall at Lake Olmstead Stadium.

After more than 17 years in minor league baseball, Augusta GreenJackets general manager Nick Brown has endured plenty of odd experiences. But until Wednesday night, he had never seen an outfield wall fall over.


"I've built two decks, two manual scoreboards and now I can say I've built a center field wall," he said.

A 50-foot portion of the outfield wall was toppled during heavy thunderstorms before Wednesday's scheduled game, which was postponed.

Four GreenJackets staffers worked late into Wednesday night to repair the damage in time for Thursday night's scheduled doubleheader, which was later postponed because of rain.

Brown was joined by director of stadium operations David Ryther Jr., head groundskeeper Zach Baker and official scorer Ted Miller. The foursome wasn't able to salvage any portion of the damaged wall.

"We were out there with chainsaws and crowbars," Brown said. "We had to completely destroy the old wall and build a new one."

The group called it quits a little after 11 p.m. Wednesday and reconverged early Thursday morning, working around a fire ant infestation at the base of the wall and a youth baseball camp on the field.

The end product was a centerfield wall that matched the rest of the outfield wall in color and size. The damaged wall included an 18-foot high portion that served as the batters' eye and was considered in the field of play. The new batters' eye is a temporary dark green screen suspended above and slightly beyond the new wall.

The rushed construction job was nothing new to the Lake Olmstead Stadium staff, who scrambled to replace a scoreboard 24 hours before the 2010 home opener. The broken scoreboard suffered an irreparable electronic problem, which forced the staff to create a manual wooden scoreboard in the right-center field wall.

Brown said repairing this week's damage required more work than coming up with last year's replacement scoreboard.

"This was much more labor intensive," he said. "It was four men working 14 hours to get this done."

The wall passed a pregame inspection from GreenJackets starting center fielder Chris Lofton.

"It's good. It's solid enough," he said. "I told the guys if I'm going after a fly ball, I'm going through the wall just to knock it out."

Games postponed

Heavy rain Thursday forced the postponement of the GreenJackets' game against the Hagerstown Suns for the second consecutive night.

The GreenJackets, who were rained out Wednesday night, where scheduled to play two seven-inning games Thursday night. The teams managed to play only 2w innings before rain stopped play for more than an hour-and-a-half. The game was then postponed until today at 6 p.m.

Augusta leads 1-0 with two outs in the top of the third inning.

-- Billy Byler, staff writer