On Tuesday, it is highly probable that the coldest major league baseball game in history was played in Denver. A home game of the Colorado Rockies against Atlanta, the first pitch temperature was 23F, smashing the old record of 28F.
Temperature record keeping from major-league baseball only goes back to 1991, so why am I fairly confident that this is the record that extends back to baseball's early days? The reason is the location.
Denver is the highest altitude baseball stadium by far: 5183 ft (they don't call Denver the Mile-High City for nothing). The next highest are Arizona (1080) and Atlanta (1050 ft). Far lower and much warmer locations. Higher generally means colder. Furthermore, being on the eastern slopes of the Rockies, Denver is vulnerable to surges of cold air from the north. Guess what happened on Tuesday? Here is the proof: a surface chart that clearly shows a tongue of high pressure and cold air moving southward down the western side of the high plains.
The result were a large number of daily records in the region, both for minimum and maximum temperatures (see graphics FROM THE U.S. GOVERNMENT below for the proof, blue dots indicate record low).
Record low minimum temperatures
Record low maximum temperatures.
Now here is the good part. Denver was an expansion team that played its first season in 1993. Thus, considering its unique meteorological location and altitude, it is quite possible that the 23F would have been the coldest temperature on record for all major league games at any location. Yes, you might argue about Minnesota, but keep in mind that the baseball season usually starts around April 1, and the all-time record low daily maximum temperature in Minneapolis for April was 22F in 1896.
The cold air produced all kinds of unusual sights at the game. Ground fog swirled around the pitcher! Snow was seen in the outfield (see below).
And snowmen were found in the stands.
With such cold air, the air would have been very dense, working against the long ball. Perhaps in a future blog I will take on the controversy of cold temperatures at Safeco Field in Seattle...but that will have to wait until another day.
Before another game in Denver