Beating the heat with the Boise Hawks
One hundred, 101 and 95 — numbers that would be eye-popping on a pitcher’s radar gun inside any baseball stadium. Instead, those are first-pitch temperatures the past three nights of Boise’s homestand at Memorial Stadium.
Navigating the heat is part of the summer experience with the Hawks, from those on the field to fans in the stands. And even for a man in a 40-pound bird costume.
An Ohio native and graduate of Ohio State, first baseman Jacob Bosiokovic is accustomed to summers that can be warm, usually with an extra twist of humidity. Playing in weather that approaches triple digits in a dry heat, that took some getting used to.
“I’ve never had to deal with this,” Bosiokovic said. “I was kind of surprised the first time I played in it. It’s different.”
The Hawks have two 10-gallon water jugs in the dugout, and each player totes a water bottle that gets refilled two or three times on steamy nights. About 30 pounds of ice is used in the dugout each night, another 10 pounds typically is used in the water dispenser in the bullpen area, which gets hit with sunlight nearly all day.
“Everyone knows it’s hot, so they don’t really tell us much other than to hydrate,” Bosiokovic said. “You can’t think of it too much, because when you do, you’re in trouble.”
Jim Jackson might have the toughest job inside Memorial Stadium when the mercury rises. He’s the man inside Humphrey the Hawk, the team mascot. The suit weighs about 40 pounds and gets about 30 degrees warmer inside it than the temperature outside.
Between games, it hangs inside out.
“When I take it off, I’m about 10 pounds lighter and dripping wet,” Jackson said.
It’s a process for Jackson to handle the heat, starting well before the game. He drinks a gallon or so of water before each game and dons a cooling vest to drop his body temperature. He used to wear it during games, but it wound up being dead weight that actually retained heat. During his occasional five-minute breaks, he downs another gallon during the game, and another after.
“For me, the satisfaction of seeing kids, and adults, too, being happy, meeting new people, that far outweighs dealing with the heat,” Jackson said.
On the first-base side of Memorial Stadium, the side with metal bleachers and no shade until the sun checks out for the night, Jaime Wright holds a fan to the left side of her face to block the glare.
“It’s not that bad, really, just the first four or five innings. But once the sun goes down, it’s just as hot as anywhere else,” she said.
Because of the sun-soaked seating, the seats are the cheapest in the stadium, which is the draw for Wright, who attends three or four games a year.
Her keys to handling the heat when there’s not a cloud in the sky?
“Make some shade however you can. Switch to water if you have something else cold to start, and don’t move too much,” Wright said.
If it wasn’t hot enough already, Dan Gall spends most of his nights behind a flame that burns at 375 degrees. The grillmaster at The Grand Slam Grill guzzles water out of a gallon-sized jug that once contained barbecue sauce. He also has a wet rag behind the counter to put on his face or neck for quick relief.
“It gets up there,” Gall said. “I haven’t felt like passing out yet. Just have to drink water, get out of the heat whenever you can.”
Makayla Philp gets plenty of sun working the register in front of First National Frank concession stand, hit by the rays all night. Working on her fifth bottle of water of the evening minutes before the first pitch, she finds a way to make the most of it, sleeves rolled up over her shoulders.
“You drink so much water out here,” she said. “When you’re busy, you don’t think about the heat, so you’ve got to keep your mind on other things. And you’ve got to be positive. I get a great tan sitting out here.”
Sometimes, working concessions has its perks, a little private escape from the endless heat.
“I’ll take any excuse to go to the walk-in (freezer),” Gall said. “You know, just hang out a bit, saying, ‘I can’t find those hot dogs, they’re here — somewhere.’ ”