Sunday, May 20, 2007

Escape from New Britain

Has anyone ever told you that Eastern League stadiums are like penitentiaries?

After the game had ended, I was sitting in the press box with Ken Lipshez of the New Britain Herald and Tom Hein of the Hartford Courant. Ken left and just a few moments after, I departed. As I made my way towards an exit at the stadium, I found that it was locked. As was every other possible exit.

I walked around the stadium searching for a way out or for any signs of life. Alas, I came to the conclusion that Tom and I were the last people at New Britain Stadium. Somewhere after Ken left and before I made my way down, the last gate was locked.

What is unusual is that on every previous visit to NBS, even when I have been there until 11 or later, there was at least one gate open.

Back to the story...

I run into the stands and yell up to Tom in the press box. He asks me to wait until he comes down to attempt my escape. My first idea was to climb up on a bar stool and lift ourselves over a gate. Tom wasn't a big fan of the idea.

We made our way to left field by the visiting team entrance. Tom suggests using the stand used for handing out game programs. I'm not convinced it can hold my weight (230-240 lbs). Seeing a shed used by the grounds crew, we try to figure how to climb the shed and get over the fence. We grab a trainer's table outside the visiting clubhouse and attempt to climb on top of it and onto the shed. It is too short.

We carry the wooden program stand and get on the table and onto the stand and onto the shed. Tom got his right leg up, but struggled to get on the shed, so I gave him a boost. He slid down the far side of the shed and rested. After evaluating the roughly 10-foot drop, Tom sat on the end, grabbed the fence and hung on to break his momentum before lowering himself to the ground with a drop of about five feet.

He walks over to the side where I lifted and then lowered our bags containing our laptops into his outstretched arms.

Now it is my turn. I rise the same way, but can't get on the shed. Instead I decide to turn around and try to jump up from the stand and onto the roof. Not only did that not work and I found myself momentarily stuck, but when I jumped up, the program stand cracked. I knew I couldn't get on the roof, so I would have to lower myself onto the stand again and hope that it wouldn't break from my weight. One slight problem -- I couldn't see the stand. After carefully avoiding serious bodily harm, I climbed down.

Tom found a hydraulic lift that was near even with the fence, but it was about a foot away from the fence and a longer drop, so I would have to clear the railing of the lift, clear the space between the railing and fence and make a greater descent in one movement. Not happening. Oh, did I add that I have a fear of heights?

We find some metal steps on their side next to the shed. I climb them, but it is not enough to get me on the shed. We try adding an eight-inch wood step, but that fails. We added a metal folding chair, which was a risk because the metal steps wobbled. Using the top of the fence for leverage, I get on the roof.

Taking a moment to rest, I slide down and into position to do as Tom had done. But I can't get a good grip with one hand and making the move downward seems ill-advised.

We try another option, using a door hinge on the gate as a pivot, but that was physically impossible without breaking my ankle before I came down.

Finally, I get the idea that Tom drive my car over and I climb down onto my roof. So after Tom drives my car in between two fences to where I was positioned, I slide onto my hood, avoiding the gap between car and fence. I slide down the back and use the tire gate as a step and make my way to the ground about 90 minutes after the ordeal began.

No comments: