Mother Nature put an unexpected kink in the plans of those sluggers hoping to punch a bundle of round-trip tickets during the Payson Parks and Recreation-sponsored Home Run Derby.
The fourth annual slugfest, which was to be contested July 6 at Rumsey Park, was postponed due inclement weather, which included lightning, wind and rain.
But, postponements and delays are nothing new to the derby.
Last summer, it was delayed for about half an hour, due to swirling winds.
In 2005, when the tournament was scheduled for July 16, rain forced postponement until the following month.
Because the monsoon season appears to be descending on the Rim Country, Parks and Recreation coordinator Mary McMullen decided to hold a make-up derby in the morning hours, rather than the evening, when showers usually arrive.
"We'll make it up at 10 a.m. Aug. 4 at Rumsey II," she said. "We'll have some snacks there and try to make it a fun family event."
With the postponement of the derby, the registration deadline has been moved up to 5 p.m. Aug. 4.
However, if any team shows up by 9 a.m. the day of the derby at Rumsey, McMullen will accept late registration and allow the players to compete.
The fee is $45 per team and all players must be 21 years old and older.
The event, co-sponsored by the Mazatzal Casino, has grown in popularity each year it has been held.
Over the years, the derby built a reputation for its charitable cause, which includes donating proceeds to local nonprofit organizations.
Last year, winning teams chose to donate to:
- The Gracie Haught Classic Softball tournament ($700)
- Payson Humane Society ($300)
- Payson Area Habitat for Humanity ($500)
- Payson High School baseball ($300)
- Big Brothers, Big Sisters ($200)
When registering for the circuit skirmish, each three-person team must designate a nonprofit organization to be the recipient of its prize money, which is donated by the local tribal casino.
The derby will feature both men's and women's divisions. For the women, the home run fence will be moved in to 200 feet from home plate.
For the men, a home run is one hit over the regulation Rumsey II fence.
Also, the women will hit an 11-inch softball, commonly used in most recreation leagues. The men will hit a 12-inch softball.
Hitters will supply their own pitchers. Pitches must be underhand, with an arch of six to 12 feet above the ground.
The good news for those power hitters who own state-of-the-art, high-dollar bats outlawed in most ASA and USSSA play, is the widow-makers will be permitted in the derby.
Also, commonly used, restricted-flight softballs will be stored away in ball bags. Rather, high flyin' .50 core balls, illegal in most tournaments, will be used.
With double-walled titanium bats and rock-rigid spheres in use, more and longer home runs should be sailing out of Rumsey Park.
For more information about the derby, call McMullen at 474-5242, ext. 7.