Tarp Attack: Minor league grounds crew swallowed up during severe thunderstorm (Video)

A scary scene developed during the Joliet Slammers and Southern Illinois Miners Frontier League game on Friday night when a severe thunderstorm with heavy rain and hurricane strength wind gusts moved through the Joliet area just prior to the seventh inning.

With the severe weather bearing down, the Silver Cross Field grounds crew sprung into action, and seemed to have a solid plan in place to keep their diamond protected from the oncoming onslaught. Not only did they cover the field with the basic tarpaulin, they also loaded it with heavy sandbags and then parked the four-wheel drive that delivered the sandbags on top of the tarp around home plate.

Unfortunately, though, Mother Nature was not going to be denied that easily. As wind gusts began to inch the tarp ever so slightly off the infield, several crew members ran in to help get it repositioned, but were quickly overwhelmed by heavier gusts. As more members (and front office staff) rushed in for the save, they too were swallowed up and pushed all the way across the infield.

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Have a look at the mayhem (things really begin to get scary around the 50-second mark):

As someone who lives just north of the path this storm took through northern Illinois and eventually into Chicago's southern suburbs, I can tell you there were several tense moments as that particular cell that made it's way through Joliet developed around Rockford, Illinois, even leading to the issuing of tornado warnings in several surrounding counties.

Thankfully, the storm never reached that level of severity at its peak, but as you can see in the video, it still packed a dangerous punch.

By the way, as you probably guessed, the Slammers and Miners were not able to finish Friday night's game, which gave Southern Illinois a 7-4 victory and series sweep. We're also happy to report that no members of the grounds crew (or front office) were injured during this incident, and that Aaron Morse, the voice attached to this video, safely retreated away from the electronics in the broadcast booth.