Losing a Ball in the Metrodome Ceiling

It was on May 4, 1984, that the Oakland A’s Dave Kingman lost a ball in the ceiling of the three-year-old Metrodome. The Associated Press said that he

proved tonight that whatever goes up does not necessarily come down.

With two out in the fourth inning, Kingman hit a high popup over the pitchers’ mound.

The Minnesota Twins’ pitcher, Frank Viola, waited, and waited and waited, but the ball never came down.

The ball apparently went into a hole in the fabric ceiling of the Metrodome, which is 186 feet at its peak. Kingman was awarded a ground-rule double.

It was the first time a ball has been lost in the roof.

Minnesota got another plus for the evening: the Twins beat the A’s, 3-1.

Frank Viola (2-3) held Oakland to four hits in 7 2/3 innings in Minneapolis’ Metrodome but was upstaged by Dave Kingman’s fourth-inning pop fly.

With two out, Viola threw a low fast ball and Kingman “golfed it up like a drive off a tee,” Viola said.

The ball went high above the pitcher’s mound. Everyone gazed upward, waiting. Finally, first baseman Mickey Hatcher stole a ball from the umpire’s bag. “I slammed it against the ground and tagged Kingman out,” Hatcher said. “But they didn’t go for it.”

Kingman also homered off reliever Ron Davis in the ninth.

A couple days later, another newspaper updated the story: “The ball (ground-rule double) Dave Kingman of the Oakland A’s lofted in the fourth inning Friday night in the Minneapolis Metrodome still had not come down yesterday. A dome official speculated it may be forever lost in the recesses between fabric layers. The ball, 3 1/2 inches in diameter, is presumed to have sailed through an eight-inch drainage hole in the ceiling 180 feet up.”

Hatcher talked about the weird play years later in a short video available on ESPN.com. As a postscript for Twins fans, here’s some info. on the Twins’ first and second game in the Metrodome, on April 6 and 7, 1982: 52,279 people had seen the Minnesota Twins lose the first game in Metrodome history, but the next day, just 5,213 were on hand to see Jim Eisenreich’s two-run single and a Kent Hrbek solo homer lead the way to a 7-5 victory over the Seattle Mariners. Eisenreich’s single was his first ever big-league hit, and Hrbek’s homer showed the abilities that made him maybe the best rookie of 1982.

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Frankie Viola talks about this play in an interview on Seamheads, at http://networkedblogs.com/lDTJ1

  2. It’s fortunate that there’s audio of this play, Arne. Joe Angel, Twins radio color analyst, was announcing during that fourth inning, couldn’t have sounded more incredulous. Kudos on finding, posting great source material. By the way: click on link I posted “back to baseball” I believe, quaint simulation of that play, ridiculous summary in right side margin. Event also made me recall what a disagreeable chap Kingman was throughout his career. Not exactly an engaging character, to say the least.


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