If you’re a baseball fan, then you’re familiar with a great concept known as “Rain Delay Theater”. Unfortunately, Wikipedia and even trusty baseball resources have left me all wet looking for a definition. I’m left to create one. When baseball games are delayed by rain, groundskeepers roll out the tarp, the fans run for cover or bust out the umbrellas, and the players all tuck safely inside the comfort of their clubhouse or dugout. Local TV stations broadcasting the game, however, are left scrambling for material. After all, they were planning on airing a baseball game. And until it stops raining and the tarp comes off the field, there’s no baseball. There’s our definition: Rain Delay Theater is the programming that local television stations air during rain delays at baseball games.
Things have changed a bit through the years. For instance, I watch my beloved St. Louis Cardinals on Fox Sports Midwest. Whenever there’s a rain delay, they have pre-produced re-caps of the previous season (or seasons) or highlights from great games in the past. Occasionally, they’ll show pre-recorded interviews with baseball personalities. But it hasn’t always been that way. I grew up watching the Milwaukee Brewers. Whenever WMSN (Fox 47) was forced into Rain Delay Theater, they opted to show the syndicated shows in their normal broadcast cycle. When I was 10 through 14 years old, there were a LOT of rain delays because I watched a lot of baseball. I wound up getting exposed to a lot of classic TV shows before Nick at Nite was even a synapse in some producer’s head. Here are eight that I watched while waiting for Paul Molitor, Robin Yount, and Gumby Gantner to come back out to ply their craft on the diamond:
The Andy Griffith Show
Sheriff Taylor’s homespun wisdom would make rain delays fly right by, even if I did want to beat the crap out of little Opie for demeaning children everywhere. Seeing Barney Fife (a.k.a. Don Knotts) made me confront my own mortality, because I had otherwise only known him as the guy from Three’s Company and all of those Tim Conway buddy movies from the 70’s. Seeing Knotts in Mayberry made me realize that there was a life and a natural aging process. “Dammit”, I thought at age 10, “I’m going to get old some day.” Continue reading