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The D-backs' new mascot? A rat

A rat?
@MattMono11
September 11, 2020

Most teams have a mascot that more or less relates to their team nickname. There's Cubby Bear for the Cubs, Mr. Met for the Mets or Mr. Red for the Reds. And then there's the Arizona Diamondbacks. A diamondback is a snake and yet -- the team mascot is a

Most teams have a mascot that more or less relates to their team nickname. There's Cubby Bear for the Cubs, Mr. Met for the Mets or Mr. Red for the Reds.

And then there's the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A diamondback is a snake and yet -- the team mascot is a giant bobcat. Brantley Bell, former D-back Jay's son, actually came up with the idea back in 2000. It does have some relation to the team: Chase Field used to be called Bank One Ballpark (BOB for short) and the animal is native to Arizona.

But now, as of Thursday night's game against the Dodgers, the D-backs have a second mascot that has absolutely nothing to do with the nickname or the state. They have a rat.

Its full name is Rat Leon, a play on the team's social hashtag #RattleOn. You may think it may not make much sense to have a rat as a baseball mascot, but rats and baseball actually have a long, storied history together.

-The Tennessee Rats were a successful all-Black baseball team in the early 1900s. One of the greatest unknown pitchers of all-time, John Donaldson, went 44-3 with them one year.

-After the Red Sox spotted a rat in their dugout in Fenway Park in Sept. 14, 2018, they went 18-10 the rest of the way (including the playoffs) and won their fourth World Series in 14 years.

-A rat on a cameraman's leg changed television forever -- giving us Carlton Fisks's famous reaction to his home run in the 1975 World Series.

-Rats Henderson, who got his nickname after coworkers used to hide rats in his lunchbox, was a Negro Leagues pitcher. He won 75 games over nine seasons, compiled a 3.56 ERA and was voted as one of the best Negro Leagues players in history.

-The Charleston RiverDogs -- Class A affiliate for the Yankees -- are one of the most popular Minor League teams in the country. Legend has it the RiverDogs name actually refers to giant river rats.

"The name originates from an urban legend that sailors in Charleston would notice large rats on the banks of the nearby Cooper and Ashley rivers, and would call them "river dogs."'

Like peanuts and Cracker Jack, rats are just as integral a part of the game we love. The D-backs know that and now, most important, you do too.

Matt Monagan is a writer for MLB.com. In his spare time, he travels and searches Twitter for Wily Mo Peña news.