Baseball stadium squirrel has to go, ballpark officials say
PHILADELPHIA (AP) - At least one "Rally Squirrel" was caught in his tracks.
Two days after a pesky critter scampered across home plate during an NL playoff game in St. Louis, another squirrel was captured before Game 5 in Philadelphia.
Philadelphia pitcher Roy Oswalt used his glove, trying to snag the squirrel near the warning track at Citizens Bank Park hours before the deciding game between the Cardinals and Phillies.
The squirrel was eventually caught by a member of the Phillies grounds crew and released.
This series turned squirrelly at Busch Stadium on Wednesday night when the little animal dashed in front of St. Louis' Skip Schumaker while he was batting in Game 4.
The Phillies' crowd had some fun with the rodent's 15 acorns of fame. A fan made a sign that read, "Go away Red Birds, and take your squirrel with you."
The St. Louis squirrel quickly became a fan favorite, and a Twitter account attributed to it has been active since Tuesday night. A dueling Twitter account named VetStadiumRat was set up Thursday.
It seemed appropriate that a squirrel showed up in Philadelphia, too. The most one of them all is, of course, Rocky the flying squirrel and his partner, Bullwinkle.
In St. Louis, they're still trying to catch the furry intruder. Vice president of stadium operations Joe Abernathy believes two or three squirrels have made their home at 6-year-old Busch Stadium. He said there is a public safety issue, and added that stadium officials don't want any interruptions in play.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and KMOX Radio reported that seven traps have been set up by the team groundskeeper to catch the squirrel or squirrels. The traps are baited with peanut butter, then a gate closes behind it. The squirrel can then be taken elsewhere.
The squirrel that dashed across the plate jumped to the box seats and safety in the fifth inning of Game 4 Wednesday night. Earlier in that game, a squirrel was sighted on a walkway just past the green expanse beyond the center field wall, and another was seen along foul territory down the third-base line.
Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt said he was distracted by the squirrel's appearance during his delivery of an inside pitch called a ball. Oswalt and manager Charlie Manuel were unsuccessful in pleas to home plate umpire Angel Hernandez for a do-over.
"If it ran up the guy's leg, was he going to call the pitch a strike?" Oswalt said, only half-jokingly. "I was wondering what size of animal it needed to be for it not to be a pitch."
The Cardinals won that game, sending the opening-round playoff series to a deciding Game 5 in Philadelphia on Friday night.