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High School Coach Douses Field In Gasoline, Lights It On Fire, Promptly Gets Placed On Admin Leave

From Fox13 Utah:

The Clearfield High School baseball field has been shut down due to contamination. The school district says the baseball coach poured petroleum on parts of the field to dry it out, causing the contamination.

According to the Davis County Health Department, a concerned parent notified them of a strong gasoline smell near the baseball field at Clearfield High School.

Rachelle Blackham, the Environmental Health Director with the Davis County Health Department, says they did initial tests on the field on March 25.

“We went out there and used a four gas analyzer in which we took readings of VOC’s and we did not have any readings so we don’t believe there is a hazard to the people who are there watching the games but there is a hazard with the contaminants contaminating the soil and percolating down,” said Blackham.

During the tests, it was found that 15 to 20 gallons of gasoline and diesel were poured on the field.

15 to 20 gallons of gasoline?! What?! Why?!

Shauna Lund, the Community Relations Supervisor of the Davis County School District, says they are aware that this is a common practice for drying out baseball fields, However, the health department says it’s something that people shouldn’t do.

Dousing baseball fields in gasoline is common practice? I asked Hubbs, Office Manager Brett, Carrabis & all the other baseball people at the office & no one had ever heard of doing this before. But I did some research and indeed it is a thing. Cue the rabbit hole…

Exhibit A: Guy who can’t stop saying “WOWWWW!” as a guy lights his kid’s field on fire to dry the diamond.

Exhibit B: Another guy watching his kid’s field burn dry who notes, “You know, if I wasn’t from a small town I would say that is a small town thing to do.” I think you’re onto something there, sir…

Exhibit C: The first instance I could find of this practice in the news goes back to a 1986 LA Times article titled ‘DIAMONDS IN THE ROUGH : Come Hell or High Water, Coaches Find Way to Play‘:

There is a lot to coaching a baseball team.

Like knowing which markets have the best prices on cat litter. Or mastering the technique of throwing matches into puddles of gasoline without burning one’s eyebrows. And staying in good enough shape to dodge the powerful streams of water from the hoses of angry firemen.

Coaches are resorting to desperate measures to make baseball fields playable in the wake of a recent series of rainstorms.

According to U. S. Weather Service reports, more than five inches of rain has fallen in the Valley area in the past week, leaving baseball schedules mired because of the mud.

More light rain is forecast through Sunday.

The downpour from the storms has left the dirt area of most infields in the Valley looking better suited to canoeing than baseball. The task of trying to pull the baseball diamonds out of the mud usually falls to the coaches.

“I’ve seen them do a lot of things to dry their fields,” said Philadelphia Phillies scout Jay Robertson, who lives in Simi Valley. “But I don’t think I had ever seen anyone throw kitty litter on their infield until I went to UC Santa Barbara a few days ago. It worked, though. They got the game in.”

Scott Muckey, the coach at Valley College, didn’t try cat litter. He took a more aggressive tack.

On Tuesday, Muckey wanted to clear water from the infield so Valley could play a game against Moorpark. The coach figured he’d fight water with fire, so he poured gasoline on the field and set it ablaze.

It was working pretty well until the fire department showed up.

“We gave it a try,” Muckey said, laughing. “But the fire department came by and told us to knock it off.”

It looks like ‘ol Coach Muckey started a movement. And hey, good advice by the fire department to cut it out because although it’s pretty innocuous in liquid form, it can explode with spectacular violence in a gaseous state as it evaporates… One gallon of gas has the potential energy of several sticks of dynamite.

Back at Clearfield High School in Utah, the field is closed off until further notice because the soil is contaminated, and the coach has been placed on administrative leave so the kids can’t play on it at all. I’m sure they’ll find something fun to cheer them up.