Minor league turtle delay recalls other moments of wildlife on the field

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Sports are great. Animals are great. When the two mix, it's incredible ... sometimes.

The Bradenton Marauders, a minor league affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, found that out firsthand on Saturday, when a turtle caused a brief stoppage in play. The surprisingly fast reptile roamed around the outfield for a bit before pitcher Magdiel Cotto managed to safely remove it from play.

This wasn't close to the first time an animal has interrupted play during a sporting event. There was that time when a sportswriter's own dog ran onto the field, interrupting a Georgia football game. And San Antonio seemingly has had as many bat encounters as occur in "Dracula." In honor of these amazing incidents, let's look back at some other top animal-on-field moments.

What: Bees

Where: Chase Field, Arizona

When: 2024

Ahead of a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Arizona Diamondbacks received a few surprise visitors behind home plate -- bees.

There was a colony forming on the protective netting behind home plate, which resulted in a delay of one hour and 55 minutes, according to the Diamondbacks.

The Diamondbacks had to call beekeeper Matt Hilton from Blue Sky Pest Control.

Hilton said he was at his son's T-ball game when he got the call. Little did he know he'd instantly become a fan favorite after taking care of the bees.

"I thought I was just here to take care of a bee problem, and people were pretty hyped up," Hilton told MLB Network.

Hilton also threw out the ceremonial first pitch.

What: Cat

Where: Angel Stadium, California

When: 2024

There's something about the last day of April and animals on the diamond.

On the same night the Diamondbacks were dealing with bees, the Los Angeles Angels and Philadelphia Phillies got a surprise visit from a cat.

In the bottom of the seventh, the cat sprinted and landed in the Phillies' dugout. Thankfully, as the broadcaster pointed out, it wasn't a black cat.

What: Squirrel

Where: Yankees Stadium, New York

When: 2023

Early in the 2023 season, a squirrel astounded the Yankee Stadium faithful when it ran across the outfield wall.

Fortunately, it appears neither fan nor squirrel were harmed in the little creature's big adventure.

What: Bats

Where: AT&T Center, San Antonio

When: 2009 -- and again in 2019

Here's the thing about bats: If you don't know much about them and what they're capable of, they're terrifying. And at AT&T Center, where the San Antonio Spurs play, they've shown up more than once.

First, we have to go to October 2009, when one bat invaded the Spurs' game against the Sacramento Kings. Luckily, the swift and speedy Manu Ginobili was still on the Spurs, and he was able to somehow swat the creature down and capture it. What's even more interesting is that this happened on Halloween night.

The bats weren't done, though.

The Spurs were taking on the Brooklyn Nets in January when the game was delayed for a few minutes by not just one, but four bats, as the staff worked to clear the animals. Clearly fans knew who was needed, as chants of "Manu, Manu, Manu" broke out in the crowd.

Sorry to break it to you, but the bats weren't done in San Antonio. A month later, during a Spurs game against the New Orleans Pelicans, another bat made its way to the floor at AT&T Center.

This time it was the Spurs' mascot, The Coyote, who was able to capture the critter with a fishing net near the scorer's table during the first quarter. The delay lasted about 90 seconds.

The bats came back again for a third time this year in March when the Spurs were taking on the Milwaukee Bucks. Again, The Coyote came to the rescue.

What: Squirrel

Where: Busch Stadium, St. Louis

When: 2011

Imagine it's your first time bursting into the spotlight, and you win the World Series.

That's how it went down (kinda) for the gray squirrel that ran across home plate at Busch Stadium during Game 3 of the National League Division Series between the Philadelphia Phillies and the St. Louis Cardinals in October 2011.

There was no delay of game, though it was evident that every player was considerably confused.

*Note: We scoured every corner of the interwebs, and there is no original video of the Rally Squirrel. It seems that 2011 was clearly a much simpler time.

The Phillies won Game 3 though, giving them a 2-1 lead in the NLDS. But the Cardinals won Games 4 and 5, clinching the series and heading to the World Series. St. Louis went on to win the 2011 World Series against the Texas Rangers in seven games with Rally Squirrel playing a role.

What: Cat

Where: M&T Bank Stadium, Baltimore and MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey

When: 2017, 2019

Cats are pretty nimble creatures, so it's no surprise how often they make their way into any sports venue.

In 2017, a kitten snuck down into M&T Bank Stadium to take in a game between the Miami Dolphins and the Baltimore Ravens.

Tony Romo's play-by-play is highly entertaining. But the cute cat was eventually captured by stadium staff and taken away.

The story had a happy ending, though. According to the team, a stadium employee officially adopted the stray cat and named her "Rae" -- short for Ravens.

In 2019,a black cat ran onto the field during a New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys "Monday Night Football" game at MetLife Stadium.

What: Dog

Where: Dunhill Links Championship, Scotland

When: 2012

Look, dogs and balls go hand in hand. Not only that, but Scotland is one of the most dog-friendly nations. So it's no surprise that Dunhill Links has seen its fair share of pooches during golf play.

In 2012, however, one dog took its ball obsession a bit too far and stole Paul Casey's golf ball right off of the third hole green.

"It's the weirdest thing I've ever had happen on a golf course," Casey said. "I noticed the dog on the 12th tee and he sort of followed us down the fairway before taking a real liking to my golf ball."

The good news was that Casey was allowed to play his original ball and scored a birdie on the hole.

What: Bees

Where: Great American Ball Park, Cincinnati

When: 2019

The worst part about bees is you really have no idea which way they are going to fly. And of course the fact that they can sting you.

There was an 18-minute delay when a swarm of bees landed at the top of the backstop screen before the first pitch of a game in May between the San Francisco Giants and the Cincinnati Reds.

Honestly, we're just glad no one got stung.

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