How many of you have been to a sports game where some costumed individual has stood down near the area of play and launched various objects out of what is commonly known as a “t-shirt cannon?” Well recently I’ve had the pleasure of being that costumed individual. And yes, they gave me a t-shirt cannon.
Most t-shirt cannons are little more than a modified paintball gun using pressures of about 35 to 40 psi. The cannon they handed me however was not one of these models. It was a custom built job, complete with adjustable pressure valve capable of pressures up to 100 psi. The group I was with was having fun launching various objects into the crowd at a local sports game. Lets just say the sport involved a diamond, large wooden clubs, small leather wrapped balls and a lot of spitting. We were launching stuff like t-shirts, hats, nerf-balls and other various soft objects to the crowd and I could tell the people in the upper tiers were getting upset because they were not receiving anything in the ongoing festivities. So I upped the pressure. All the way. And the level of fun went up as the level of intelligence dropped.
So now we are launching t-shirts, hats, nerf-balls and other various objects into the upper tiers. We had to aim almost straight up as there was a cross breeze above the stadium that was catching the objects fired and was flinging them about with wild abandon. After a few t-shirts landed on the roof of the structure we figured out the cross breeze. A couple minutes later one of the local sports athletes walks out and hand us several of the leather wrapped balls with his very own signature on them. Most, we either handed out or tossed out by arm, but none of us had the arm strength to reach the upper tiers. So we decided to use the cannon.
Did you notice earlier when I mentioned I had turned the pressure up? Well we forgot to turn it back down. So we loaded the cannon, it was an almost perfect fit as the ball was snug along the sides of the launch tube, aimed in the same general direction we had been launching the t-shirts, and pulled the trigger. I felt like I had been kicked by a mule and the ball shot out at a speed that a major league pitcher would have envied. We all watched in horror is the wind caught the ball and carried it to the side of the stands, missing the scoreboard by only a few feet. Then we heard the car alarm go off. The crowd laughed and cheered, only a couple thousand people, and we sheepishly left the field.
About fifteen minutes later as we all approached our vehicles we heard the commander utter an oath not suitable for young ears and eyes. The ball had crashed through the rear passenger window if his car.
No one really got in trouble (he was the one who suggested using the cannon in the first place) but we learned a valuable lesson that day. If you are going to launch baseballs out a t-shirt cannon, point away from where your vehicles are parked.