A Yankee at-bat begat cheers and chitchat as attempts to catch an acrobatic cat fell flat, while in the capital, a mantis sat pat on top of a Nat’s hat.
In other words, Monday was an eventful day in the intersection of baseball and animals.
An animal unexpectedly gets loose on a field of competition no more than a handful of times per year, and fans typically agree that it never gets old. In 2019, a cat scurried into the end zone at Giants Stadium. In 2017, a cat perched on the Miami Marlins’ gaudy home run sculpture.
Most times, the animal — typically a terrified cat — displays deft skill in evading human capture until it decides to run off the field on its own terms. The fans in the stadium typically root for the cat against the villainous grounds crew, and TV announcers gamely narrate the drama.
The newest entry into the genre appeared on Monday night at Yankee Stadium, when a game against the Baltimore Orioles was interrupted in the bottom of the eighth inning by an intruder.
Cameras first caught a cat loitering between pitches in foul territory on the third base side. After the Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge fouled off a pitch on a 1-2 count, the cat darted into left-center field, putting the game on pause.
“Uh oh, this could be awhile,” said the play-by-play announcer Michael Kay on the Yankees broadcast.
“Look at this thing go; it’s faster than anybody on the Yankees,” said Kevin Brown on the Orioles broadcast.
The animal pranced along the warning track near the Orioles bullpen, then displayed its impressive agility by leaping onto the fence.
“Nice. Good hops,” Kay said.
After shimmying across the fence, the cat hopped off and took a gander at the view. Humans began approaching; the crowd booed.
But the humans were no match as the cat easily ran away from them. The crowd cheered.
It hopped on and off the fence, leaping high but not nearly high enough to escape, plummeting several times to the ground. Being a cat, it repeatedly got up.
Four humans surrounded it; they were unsuccessful. The crowd began chanting, “M.V.P.”
Five more humans surrounded it; they had no chance.
The cat cowered under the fence near the left foul pole. This time, seven people converged.
It ran straight between the legs of a man as it escaped; the crowd went wild.
But the cheers turned to boos when the cat headed straight through an open door on the third-base line and ran off the field. Now everyone would have to return to watching baseball.
The Yankees lost to the Baltimore Orioles, 7-1.
Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins said he saw the cat in the dugout earlier in the game, “just chilling.” He added, “Next thing I know, I heard all the fans cheering. I didn’t know what was going on,” according to MLB.com. “I didn’t see the cat until he was out at the outfield wall. Then it was seeing seven grown men get their ankles broken by a cat. It was pretty funny to watch.”
A Yankees spokesman did not respond to a message seeking comment on Monday night, so the fate of the cat is, for now, unknown.
There was slightly less drama the same night in Washington, where the Nationals’ defense got an extra defender on the field: A praying mantis attached itself to the cap of Victor Robles. It was spotted in the dugout in the bottom of the eighth inning, and remained on the center fielder’s noggin into the top of the ninth.
“It’s a mantis praying for a rally,” said Bob Carpenter on the Nationals broadcast as the team was down one run in the eighth.
At some point, the mantis moved from the top of Robles’s head to the brim of his cap. Robles, appearing to play along, signaled to the bug how many outs there were in the inning, in case it was having trouble following along.
“You come to the ballpark and watch a baseball game, you never know what you’re going to see,” said F.P. Santangelo on the Nationals broadcast.