Wilbur Loo stroked his goatee, slowly shook his head and surveyed the damage to the Kingdome baseball field.
A strip of Astroturf 4 inches wide and 40 feet long was missing - ripped from ground on the left-field side of second base by fans celebrating the Seattle Mariners’ A.L. West pennant-clinching victory Monday.
“Somebody cut the turf and just tipped it right along,” said Loo, the Mariners head groundskeeper.
“I’ll tell you one thing, we wouldn’t play tomorrow,” another member of the grounds crew said.
Boisterous fans had spilled onto the Kingdome floor, swiftly overwhelming dozens of King County and Seattle police officers and Kingdome security guards before the celebratory fireworks subsided.
Many wanted only to touch home plate, to run or slide head-first across it. Some took running starts toward the plate, then thrust their bellies at the red Kingdome dirt, launching into head-first slides as Luis Sojo had done in the seventh inning when he turned a broken-bat double into a “grand-slam” play.
But others wanted pieces of the field itself. They did real damage.
Early on in the revelry, some tried to dig out home plate. It wouldn’t budge. Others made deep gouges in the pitcher’s mound. It looked as though someone tried to dig out the pitching rubber, too.
Fans also dug dirt out by the shovelful around home plate and second base.
They scooped dirt into pockets, caps, cups and plastic bags. One man kneeled near home plate, industriously digging with his keys. Two young boys eagerly poured handfuls into Gatorade cups.
Police stood nearby, watching the dirt disappear, but no one apparently saw the strip of turf disappear.
“Hey,” said one police officer, “leave some dirt for Friday, OK?”
But the dirt wasn’t really a problem.
“Dirt’s cheap,” said Kingdome worker Richard Parrish, walking the field later with Loo.
“That part is superficial,” Loo added. “But this… I don’t know,” he said pointing to the missing turf. “I’m trying to figure this one out.”
Loo wasn’t surprised fans took souvenirs, but “Boy, I’ll tell you, you never expect that,” he said of the ripped carpet.
There was no damage estimate available and, police said, no arrests.
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