by Rob Joyce
People seem to love when animals butt their way into things on accident. Go on YouTube and it will take about six seconds to go down the rabbit hole (pun intended) of adorable animal interruptions. That carries over into sports, where sometimes a small rodent or mammal just can’t resist the urge to run around on a giant open field of grass.
Not only has this happened multiple times in 2017, but to make it even better the fans, broadcasters and even the stadium operations team often seem to take full advantage of the situation, cheering on the little buggers. The festive delay on Saturday in Palo Alto kicks off our list:
Not only did a jackrabbit storm the field during Stanford’s game against Oregon, it turned out to be the most exciting part of the Cardinal’s 49-7 drubbing of the Ducks. The long-eared fellow scored a pair of touchdowns, each time drawing the excitement of the announcers and the crowd. The icing on the cake was the touchdown horn going off for the second one. Bryce Love may have some competition in the Stanford backfield.
Before the jackrabbit bounced his way into the hearts of millions, a squirrel held the title of “2017’s top animal performer” in the college ranks. During a September Louisville-Kent State game the bushy-tailed rodent got out into the open field, where the combo of play-by-play man Wes Durham and color commentator James Bates went all-in on the Lamar Jackson-esque effort.
St. Louis Cardinals:
With the bases loaded and two outs in a 5-4 game at Busch Stadium in August, a feline friend just wanted a front-row view. The kitten made its way onto the field and, like most on-field intruders, was removed for his trespassing ways. The Rally Cat, though, wasn’t going down without a fight, biting the poor groundskeeper. But the story doesn’t end there: the Cardinals hit a grand slam on the ensuing at-bat, the team went all-in on the “Rally Cat” and a mini-controversy ensued. Without going blow-by-blow, over the course of about 10 days the cat went missing, was found, and a lawyer was hired over custody of the cat.
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In an outfield with the mighty Giancarlo Stanton, the most impressive athletic feat during an early-season Marlins game came from a cat. Clearly lost and wanting to leave Marlins Park (we don’t blame him) the cat was able to avoid security, climb up a chain-link fence and make himself comfortable on the giant home run sculpture.
It turns out the Big 12’s lack of defense extends as far as stadium security, too. At the very least, the conference is repeatedly getting out-foxed by, well, foxes. First, in Week 1 the mammal got loose in the stands at Baylor’s McLane Stadium. Then two weeks later, for the third time in five years, a fox made its way into Texas Tech’s Jones AT&T Stadium.