NORWICH, Conn. -- While fog and fire alarms could not stop the Home Run Derby, the 2007 Eastern League All-Star Game wasn't as fortunate.
In a game that's supposed to be fun for players and fans, this year's Midsummer Classic at Dodd Stadium was all about the weather.
After two-plus innings during which outfielders were obscured by fog and routine fly balls dropped in for hits because players couldn't see them, managers Dave Machemer and Tim Bogar -- along with the umpiring crew and Eastern League president Joe McEacharn -- decided to call the game.
The score was tied, 2-2, when play was halted.
"The game was fine," said Bogar, who managed the South Division. "Problem is, when the ball was hit, if it was hit in the outfield at all, the players had no chance. To me, it was kind of embarrassing to the outfielders. I don't think it can be enjoyable to watch that type of game."
"I was just trying to have a little fun out there," added South Division right fielder Brian Barton of the Akron Aeros, who got a late break on a line drive that turned into a triple. "I actually had to look at the infielders to see exactly where the ball was, and I still had no clue."
In the top of the first, Trenton Thunder right-hander Jeff Marquez took the hill for the North and pitched a solid inning. He allowed just one hit and threw 22 pitches while getting over the butterflies in his first All-Star appearance.
"You kind of want to go out there and throw as hard as you can, but you can't," said Marquez. "I just went out there and had a good time."
The North got off to quick start in the bottom half against South starter Dallas Trahern. Eugenio Velez of the host Connecticut Defenders hit the ball back to the mound, where Trahern made an athletic play to knock it down but rushed his throw as Velez raced all the way to third. Mark Kiger of the Binghamton Mets plated Velez with a groundout to put the North in front.
The North continued to apply the pressure in the second against Radhames Liz of the Bowie Baysox. Rob Cosby of the New Hampshire Fisher Cats laced the ball down the right-field line for a triple that Barton had trouble finding in the fog. After Portland's Jeff Corsaletti struck out, Robinzon Diaz grounded out to second to score his Fisher Cats teammate and put the North up 2-0.
Players, however, were really starting to struggle with the thick fog and adjusting their strategies. Hitters tried to put the ball in the air, while pitchers were desperately trying to keep it on the ground.
"It was pretty much try to hit a pop fly and hope it falls somewhere," Barton said.
"[I wanted] to keep the ball on the ground," said North pitcher Alan Horne of the Thunder, who struck out two in a scoreless second. "Anything that was in the air was extra bases."
Players literally could not see. From the press box, signs on the outfield fence could not be read and players often disappeared into the murky abyss.
"I think Joe [McEacharn] made a good decision [to cancel the game]," Bogar said. "The umpires did a good job of trying to do it, trying to play."
"You're just asking for somebody to get hurt out there is what it was tonight," Horne added.
In the top of the third, Binghamton's Kevin Mulvey gave up a double to Val Majewski, then issued one-out walks to Jesus Merchan of the Reading Phillies and Asdrubal Cabrera of the Aeros to load the bases. Neil Walker of the Altoona Curve struck out, but Jackson Melian of the Erie SeaWolves hit a routine fly ball to right fielder John Bowker of the Defendeers, who lost it in the fog.
It was at that point the managers, umpires and McEacharn huddled to discuss suspending the game.
"It's one of those things you can't control," Barton said with a smile. "Hopefully, most of these guys will have the opportunity next year, including myself."