Swarming bees sting D-Backs, Rockies
Game called due to incessant pestering by swarm of bees
TUCSON, Ariz. -- Little did Colorado left-handed pitcher Darren Oliver know that he would be pitching in a bee game at Tucson Electric Park on Thursday afternoon.
A bee swarm attacked Oliver, a non-roster invitee competing for a spot in Colorado's rotation, during the fifth inning of the Rockies' game with Arizona. Several times over a 20-minute period, Oliver was chased away from the mound.
"The worst thing about it was I was the center of attention," said Oliver, who said he thought the bees were attracted to his coconut oil hair and scalp conditioner. "I'll be answering my phone a lot tonight if they put it on ESPN. Which I'm sure they will."
But it wasn't just Oliver. Colorado manager Clint Hurdle replaced Oliver with right-handed reliever Allan Simpson, who struck out Troy Glaus to end the fifth. Then the bees attacked Arizona fielders before the sixth could begin and umpires ended the game, with the score at the time -- Arizona 3, Colorado 1 -- declared the final.
Locals identified the swarms as Africanized wild bees, also known as "killer bees," which attack in swarms, sting repeatedly and become truly dangerous when swatted. "Maybe I can do a little National Geographic show with them, because I've been there," Oliver joked.
The decision to call the game was to protect players and spectators. No one on either team was stung.
"In the beginning, it was funny," Oliver said. "Then after a while, I began to get a little nervous, scared out there. ... I love this game, but I like myself a little bit more."
Glaus wasn't sure of the danger level of the bees. He was just happy to get off the field.
"I'm not really familiar with the insect world," he said. "I didn't want to be a part of it. I took a biology class like my freshman year of high school so I don't really know the different classifications of bees."
According to anecdotes, Thursday's bee swarm was not unique at TEP.
A Diamondbacks official said it occurred during one other Spring Training game in the eight years the club has trained at the park. It was two years ago, and the game was delayed 10-12 minutes. A Rockies minor league official recalled that bees caused a delay during a Triple-A Spring Training game at the TEP complex this year between Rockies and Diamondbacks minor leaguers.
Arizona scored all its runs during a first inning that included a Luis Gonzalez two-run homer. Oliver drove in the Rockies' only run with a single in the fourth.
Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.