It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a drone delay during a baseball game in Peoria

Somebody sat down Saturday and thought, “Hey, it’s 2021, I think I’ll fly a drone over a ballpark with spectators in it during a game.”

Or maybe they didn’t think at all. Dunno.

But Drone Part II happened as one of the weird sub-plots in the Peoria Chiefs 7-3 victory over the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Saturday at Dozer Park.

In the top of the eighth inning, umpire Mitch Trzeciak, standing at first base, stopped play and pointed to the sky over the infield.

There was a drone hovering there, with green lights flashing. It rose high, then dropped straight down, like a spider descending from its web after prey.

The players were ordered off the field. These days, there’s no way to know what the drone operator’s intentions are. Not to mention the distraction is a safety risk for the players, no matter how harmless the drone operator’s intentions.

The game was stopped for eight minutes while Chiefs staff tried to figure it out.

“We found the guy, he’s outside the ballpark, down the street,” said Chiefs general manager Jason Mott, motioning toward the police station down Southwest Adams Street, beyond the right field corner of the ballpark. “He was flying his drone in the ballpark trying to get footage of his grandkids or something, watching the game.

“The people who need to handle this are handling it, and it’s been taken care of.”

Foul, but no harm in the end. And it was not the first time a drone has dropped in on a Chiefs game.

Drone I happened almost six years ago to the day. The Chiefs were playing the Lake Erie Captains at Dozer Park on Aug. 5, 2015 when an ominous black drone suddenly appeared over the ballpark.

Then-Chiefs manager Joe Kruzel looked up at the press box, then pointed up at the drone.

It too, caused a delay and players ordered to take shelter as no one knew why the drone was there or what intentions came with it.

Flying drones around stadiums with 30,000 or more spectator capacity is illegal according to the FAA rules. There are federal regulations that require special equipment and pilot credentials for night flying, too.

Dozer Park, of course, is not an MLB stadium and holds about 8,000. That doesn’t make it OK to fly a drone over the field during a game. At least, not in the court of common sense.

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