Blackout postpones sporting events

Friday, August 15th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ Jay Payton and the Colorado Rockies usually have no problems with power.

Until this week, that is.

The Rockies found themselves smack in the middle of Thursday's massive blackout, one day after being plunged into total darkness at Olympic Stadium in Montreal.

The power outage that struck the Northeast and parts of Canada, Ohio and Michigan on Thursday afternoon postponed one major league game _ San Francisco at the New York Mets _ two WNBA games in New York and Cleveland, and one minor league game in Toledo.

There was no immediate word on whether the outage would claim more games Friday. The Giants were forced to wait outside Shea Stadium until 10:30 p.m. Thursday, then left by bus for Philadelphia to catch an early morning flight to Montreal.

But for Payton and the big-hitting Rockies, the power problem was becoming all too familiar.

``The lights went out on us last night, too,'' Payton said Thursday as he killed time in the lobby of a midtown Manhattan hotel, one day before opening a series at Shea.

``You just have to hang out. Hopefully, we'll play,'' he said.

Colorado pitcher Adam Bernero was walking around Times Square when the lights went out. ``People started coming out of the buildings. It was kind of weird.''

Teammate Denny Stark had a closer call. He had just stepped out of a hotel elevator on the 21st floor when the power went out shortly after 4 p.m.

``It wasn't a minute and it was blackout! I was just thankful I wasn't stuck in an elevator. Things can be a lot worse,'' he said.

On Wednesday night, the Rockies were playing at Montreal when a power failure struck the ballpark and halted the game for more than an hour. The rest of the Canadian city was not affected by that outage.

When Thursday's blackout hit, fans had not yet been let into Shea Stadium, and the Mets were still in their clubhouse. The team then went out and took batting practice, and the game was postponed about an hour before the scheduled 7:10 p.m. start.

After 6 p.m., Giants rookie Jesse Foppert popped out of the ballpark to chat with about a dozen relatives who had come to see him start the game. Eight more family members were stuck on the subway en route to the ballpark.

``We are beyond disappointed,'' said Foppert's aunt, Pat Ustick of Jamestown, R.I., adding that they were planning to drive up to Montreal to watch him pitch Friday night. ``Of course. We're his family.''

Giants star Barry Bonds was not with the team, having returned to the Bay area earlier Thursday to spend time with his ailing father. Former major leaguer Bobby Bonds has been ill with lung cancer and numerous other ailments.

No makeup date for the Giants-Mets game was announced; it was the final game of a three-game series, and San Francisco's last trip to New York this season.

The scene at Shea was very different from the last major New York blackout, which struck after dark in 1977 when the Mets were hosting the Chicago Cubs. Fans in the upper decks were able to watch as the city's lights winked out block by block.

Also postponed Thursday were the WNBA games between the New York Liberty and the Houston Comets at Madison Square Garden, and the Connecticut Sun vs. the Cleveland Rockers at Gund Arena. No makeup dates were announced.

The minor league game that was postponed was Norfolk at Toledo in the International League.

Yonkers Raceway also called off its card.