Seven times that players and animals have formed an adorable friendship
Jesus Cruz was impressive in his July 4 start for the Class A Peoria Chiefs, striking out nine in 4 2/3 innings. He was so impressive, in fact, that when he departed in the fifth, a member of the animal kingdom came swooping in to congratulate him:
While it had a bit of a bumpy ride, the bird turned out to be just fine. "I was happy to see the bird flew away [because] I thought he was hurt," Cruz said after the game through interpreter and teammate Yariel Gonzalez. "When the bird landed, I just picked him up because I like animals, and I took advantage of that."
Cruz and his bird bud are hardly the first interspecies friendship to be forged on the diamond -- below are a few of our favorites from the past few years.
Heck, Cruz isn't even the first pitcher to have a bird end up on his head this season. Paxton's new friend was a bit bigger, though:
The Rally Goose
Back in late May, a goose found its way onto the field at Comerica Park, then had some difficulty getting out. Luckily, a veterinarian happened to be sitting nearby, and she and Tigers employees helped it to safety -- and just like that, the #RallyGoose was born.
The fowl has become Detroit's unofficial mascot this year, hanging out in the dugout (in plush form, at least) and inspiring the team to walk-off wins.
The Rally Mantis
Shockingly, Burns did not flee screaming, never to be heard from again. On the contrary: The Rally Mantis became a staple at Kauffman Stadium, from the dugout to the stands.
With Cozart having a career year last season,
Protect the ducklings!
Often, when an animal or animals disrupt play by coming on to the field, players will simply try to shoo them away as quickly as possible -- they're in the middle of a game, after all, and there's a lot on their minds. When the animals in question are adorable baby ducklings, however, even the most hardened competitor is willing to wait:
Some baby ducks decided they wanted to quack everybody up by running onto the field.— Norfolk Tides (@NorfolkTides) May 6, 2018
They were headed for fowl territory, but our groundscrew scooped them up safely.
That's what we call a #WebGem pic.twitter.com/lRCL2MIhqc
You need to be careful, though: Animals aren't always willing to hug it out. Just ask Brewers prospect Brett Phillips, who in 2016 started chasing after a possum that appeared in center field ...
... only to be greeted rudely:
Thom Brennaman interviews a bird
OK, Brennaman's not technically a player, but he did take a moment to interview a bird while calling a Reds game last year, and that's good enough for us: