A flooded stadium went viral, but the Somerset Patriots didn’t give up

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NYT > Sports

Flood protection measures have long been in place in and around the stadium. After Hurricane Floyd devastated downtown Bound Brook in 1999, the US Army Corps of Engineers built infrastructure – retention basins, levees, and pumping stations – to prevent similar catastrophic flooding.

But these plans failed on September 1st at around 9:30 p.m. A lock in Bound Brook could not be opened because the New Jersey Transit Train 5451 had stalled on its track. In Bridgewater, Kevin Finnegan, a stadium maintenance worker, was at his parents’ home when one of the walls in the family basement gave way to the storm surge. The water rose up to the second floor steps and the family lost both of their vehicles. Your house is uninhabitable.

“It’s crazy how destructive that was,” said Iwicki.

There was relief. Kevin Reese, the Yankees’ player development director, and Nick Avanzato, the franchise’s minor league operations manager, flew in from Tampa, Florida to guide players and staff through insurance claims, arrange rental cars, and provide financial assistance. A GoFundMe page was launched for the Finnegans, and Chuck Hodgdon, owner of Stadium Graphics, drove down from New Hampshire to help put the outfield wall back together. Interns and managers worked together with caterers and the construction crew who were already renovating the site.

Everything was machine washed, including the grass, to make sure it wasn’t choked by the mud. Each seat was hosed down, then hand washed and hosed down a second time. Purner and his crew checked the field three times to make sure there were no weak spots. One of the last steps was buying new resin sacks that jugs can use during the games for better grip on sweaty nights as the regulars were all soaked. Before the first pitch on Friday – nine nights after Ida’s visit – Purner returned to his typical complaints.

“Some of my milling lines were a little crooked,” he said.

Until then, there was little evidence of flooding, and it wasn’t until the late innings that a musty smell wafted through the stands after the wind changed direction. Before the ninth inning, the spokesman stated that there would be no fireworks after the game as the starting area was inaccessible due to the storm. Eventually, in the lower part of the 12th inning, outfielder Michael Beltre double-cut in the opposite direction to left midfield to go for the winning run, and his Patriots teammates sprinted from the home bench to bully him near second base . Three players carried separate cool boxes and poured ice water over Beltre and the field.

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