3 Animals on the Baseball Field

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Ryan Inzana

Back in the 1880s, one clever Phillies fan enlisted carrier pigeons to keep his colleagues at work updated with the latest scores. But other critters haven’t always been that welcome at the ballpark.

1. FOWL BALL

It takes less than half a second for a ball to leave a pitcher’s hand and reach home plate. Which means it took a supremely unlucky dove to fly headfirst into one of Randy Johnson’s overpowering fastballs in 2001. The incident was ruled a nonpitch, as though it never happened—a call the bird community no doubt protests.

2. BAD NEWS CUBS

Ryan Inzana

The Cubs haven’t won a championship in over a century. Most fans would blame that drought on the owners or players, but the Cubs have a different scapegoat—a real goat. In 1945, William Sianis brought his pet, Murphy, to Wrigley Field. Late in the game, officials removed the pair, citing the odor. Sianis vowed the Cubs would never win a World Series as long as goats were banned from the stadium, and, after 105 years with a championship title, the curse seems to be working.

3. SAFETY GNATS

Ryan Inzana

The midges in Cleveland root for the home team. Or so it seemed during a pivotal playoff game in 2007. With the Yankees nursing a one-run lead over the hometown Indians, a swarm of bugs descended on the field, seemingly focusing their attention on Joba Chamberlain, New York’s rookie pitcher. The gnats were so distracting that Chamberlain threw a wild pitch that tied the game, setting up the Yanks for an extra-inning loss.

This story originally appeared in an issue of mental_floss magazine. Subscribe here.

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May 19, 2014 - 4:00pm
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