It’s Friday, May 29, and gray clouds hang over Boshamer Stadium.
An elderly couple strolls past Avery Residence Hall, just west of the field. Minutes later, a tall bearded man in joggers walks by, panting. There’s a slight breeze, and the occasional chirp of a bird. Otherwise, the home of the North Carolina baseball team is quiet.
In a normal season, today would mark the beginning of the NCAA Baseball Tournament, culminating in the eight-team College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska, starting June 13. The Tar Heels, 12-7 when their season was cut short, were ranked No. 23 by D1Baseball at the start of the year. Now though, there is nothing to play for. The stadium's 4,100 seats remain empty.
Boshamer has been UNC baseball's home since 1972. The only exception was in the 2008 season, when it was closed for renovations; since then the stadium has been the site of six NCAA regionals and four super regionals. The names and retired numbers of four Tar Heel greats — Dave Lemonds, B.J. Surhoff, Andrew Miller and Dustin Ackley — adorn the outside of the press box. Green tapestry along the left field line marks the team’s 11 College World Series appearances in program history.
Raindrops begin flittering to the ground, and a rare passerby takes notice. At a side entrance to the stadium, a single gray Buick Roadmaster sits alone in the bicycle rack. A laminated notice with the heading “Protect UNC” gives tips for how to prevent the spread of illness: wash hands often, avoid touching the face, cover coughs and sneezes, clean and disinfect frequently.
Next door, at the football team’s Bill Koman Practice Complex, a black Jeep Grand Cherokee pulls in. Its driver punches in a code and enters, followed by a sports medicine cart a few minutes later. On June 12, athletic director Bubba Cunningham announced that coaching staffs for the football, men’s basketball and women’s basketball teams will be allowed back on campus. Football players will begin their return on the same day, with separate groups arriving on June 12, 19, 26 and 29. A timeline for the return of spring sport coaches and players was not given.
On this supposed game day, no stadium employees rush out, tarp in hand, when the drizzle turns into a downpour. The rain continues until puddles form in every seat and soak through every would-be game program and UNC baseball cap. The infield of Boshamer Stadium turns to mud.