It does not rain much in the home of the Jackalopes, but when it does, it is often in the form of a viciousness. Apocalyptic dust storms, hail, and flash flooding often accompany these storms. Late summer is monsoon season — August is the second highest month in precipitation. Weather in the Greater Phoenix area is hardly static, and sometimes the skies unleash God’s Fury on the Cactus League. During these rare times, the Jackalopes howl their loudest.
Rain sends pilgrims of the Cactus League scurrying to local drug stores to purchase vast amounts of baby oil and plastic sheets so unspeakable acts can be committed in hotel rooms, but the Jackalopes would take to the streets, looking for unsuspecting Cubs’ fans lost in the flood. At first, the naive Cubs fans thought we were there to rescue them, but their relief would soon turn to terror when they realized we were not Angels of Mercy. Sure, we would pull them from the mud, but that was when our fun began.
I am often asked why the Jackalopes held Cub’s fans in such disdain. Well, the short answer answer is they are Cubs’ fans — pasty, hideously dressed creatures from the Midwest escaping harsh winters that fail to release in a timely manner to spring. They flock to the Cactus League to fill a stadium in Mesa that is overrun with feral cats, then follow to Cubs to other venues and try to put the Wrigley Field experience on everyone around them. The long answer is more complicated, but it involves Harry Caray eating himself to death.
As an older man, I am not proud what we did to Cubs’ fans with the kitty litter during rain delays, but it was a necessary course of action at the time. As far as I know, none of them died, they just left scarred, and everyone needs a few scars as souvenirs of their past. Besides, normal personal hygiene would remove any remaining kitty litter that the garden hoses didn’t remove from their orifices.
Rain delays at the park of the Cactus League are a glorious time. Unlike a regular season game, most pilgrims do not leave, but raise the beer vendors’ commissions dramatically. One such rain delay is when the Yard Gnome reached his greatest glory in 2003. Just before the start of our seventh game in three days, a brilliant spring thunderstorm unleashed from skies as dark as night, sending the 10,000 in attendance to the concourse or under the stadium room. The tarp was already on the field, and while washing a brat down with a stiff Crown Royal and water, the Yard Gnome realized the police were in the concourse also.
The Yard Gnome will never be known for his ability to think things through, and we tried to talk him out of running onto the field to complete a head first slip on the tarp into second base. With the last words of, “Don’t let me go to jail,” he jumped over the wall and raced onto the infield. His slide into second was most glorious, and the fans huddled under the roof let out a loud cheer. Had the Yard Gnome darted from the field then, he would not have been apprehended by the Scottsdale Po-Po. However, he could not resist the roar of the crowd — they were cheering for him!
Many of the fans in the concourse braved the rain to see what the loud cheer was about. They saw a sopping wet, but impeccably dressed short man waving to the crowd from where second base would have been. The Yard Gnome then broke into a sprint and completed a feet first slide half way to third base, waving to the crowd from his side. After his third slide, the Scottsdale police were forced to brave the elements to apprehend the obvious mad man on the field.
The Yard Gnome was hauled by the cops into the concourse, and just as the cuffs were about to be slipped on him, my wife began pleading that she was his wife and had to drive him back to California that afternoon. The cops relented, but threw the Yard Gnome and my wife out of the stadium. As they exited the gates, I was spared quandary of remaining inside the stadium without my wife when the PA system announced the game had been canceled.
This was the first time a Jackalope had been thrown out of a Cactus League game