Hours before one of the most highly anticipated games of the season between the visiting Yankees and the Mets, members of the New York media weren't taking in batting practice. They weren't in the pressbox reporting any last-minute storylines. They weren't interviewing starting pitchers R.A. Dickey of the Mets or CC Sabathia of the Yankees.
Instead, they stood huddled outside the Mets' clubhouse, eagerly waiting -- for a chicken.
Little Jerry Seinfeld, a new Mets mascot of sorts purchased on Friday by aptly named reliever Tim Byrdak, was presented to Meredith Turner of Farm Sanctuary on Sunday and will happily live out the rest of her days at the animal protection organization in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Byrdak sent a clubhouse attendant to purchase the bird -- named after a chicken on a 1997 episode of "Seinfeld" -- for $8 after teammate Frank Francisco labeled the Yankees "chickens" in the New York Post. A photograph of Derek Jeter's head was superimposed on the tabloid's cover on Friday, and the phenomenon that became known as Chickengate began.
But with the Mets scheduled to begin a series at Wrigley Field in Chicago on Monday evening, Little Jerry -- who had been living in a cage at Citi Field under the watch of team chef Theresa Corderi -- was in need of a new home. Byrdak made that known on Twitter, and Farm Sanctuary answered soon after.
"The power of social media saved a chicken's life today," Byrdak said.
"Little Jerry found herself a new home, and she avoids the fryer and the oven and anything else you can cook a chicken with."
On behalf of himself and the Mets, Byrdak presented Farm Sanctuary with a $500 check that will be put toward the chicken's housing supplies and any transportation costs for the five-hour drive to the reserve.
"We just want to give a huge thank you to Tim and the whole Mets team for having such huge hearts," Turner said.
In a postgame interview on Friday, Francisco said he didn't mean to offend anyone with his comments. "Chicken," after all, can be taken as a compliment, at least according to the self-labeled chicken farmer himself.
Perhaps jokingly, Francisco said prior to Sunday's game that he has a chicken farm -- "Pollo Duro" -- in the Dominican Republic, where he raises the birds. He showed a short clip from YouTube of a chicken running around.
As far as Little Jerry's future? Byrdak joked about the possibility of setting up a webcam so that he could monitor how the bird was doing. But even though Little Jerry will no longer be living at the ballpark, the reliever promised that the chicken would remain a team mascot, similar to the Cardinals' "Rally Squirrel."