MANKATO — Rain delayed the start of Wednesday's Northwoods League baseball game between the Mankato MoonDogs and the Duluth Huskies by nearly an hour.
But the conditions at Franklin Rogers Park were nothing compared to what's happening in the visiting team's home city.
The severe and destructive flooding in Duluth was on the minds of several Huskies, especially general manager Craig Smith, a lifelong resident there, and pitcher Jake Nystrom, a student at the College of St. Scholastica.
"I've seen a lot of pictures," said Nystrom, a Fargo, N.D., native who recently finished his junior year at the Duluth school. "All I can say is: It's crazy. It's chaos. No one knows what to do."
The Huskies are in Mankato as part of a three-game series that is scheduled to wrap up with a 7:05 p.m. game today. Duluth was to host Alexandria Friday and Saturday at Wade Stadium. But those games were washed out.
"I heard that at home plate, the water was up to your shins," Nystrom said. "I saw some pictures of the shortstop area, and that was under water."
Smith said the Duluth ballpark was spared the worst of the flooding and should be playable next week. The Huskies are scheduled to play there again June 28 following a road trip to Waterloo. But it's going to take much longer -- weeks, perhaps months -- to repair other portions of the city and surrounding where a state of emergency has been declared.
Up to 9 inches of rain Tuesday night led to evacuations, power outages, sinkholes, mudslides and washed-out roads.
"I've been there all my life, and that's the worst I've ever seen it," Smith said. "There are concrete streets piled up at the bottom of hills. It's pretty nasty. I've seen some nasty storms but never like that before."
Smith said since the team won't be playing games this weekend, the Huskies will be out in the community Friday and Saturday, helping with relief efforts.
"Now we're looking to see how the team can help with the recovery," Smith said. "I've got a call in to the mayor to see what help we can give."
The MoonDogs will be pitching in, too.
General manager Kyle Mrozek said Wednesday that the team will donate $3 for any ticket sold for today's game against Duluth to the Red Cross for Duluth flood relief. Tickets can be purchased at the MoonDogs office or at the gate. The team will also have a $1 launch-a-ball contest after the game as well as donation buckets throughout the ballpark for the cause.
"It's the least we can do," Mrozek said. "We've had fans call us and e-mail us about this. People are thinking outside the box, and that's neat."
As for the Huskies, they're curious to see the damage for themselves after spending time scouring the Internet for pictures and news.
"It's going to be an interesting trip back home," Nystrom said.