Yankee Stadium crewmen chased a cat along the field at the Yankees-Orioles game on Aug. 2, and cat experts say the situation could have been handled better.
With the Yankees getting drubbed 7-1 that night, the loudest roar from the stadium could be heard when a feline made its way onto the baseball diamond. But a large stadium surrounded by thousands of cheering people isn’t the ideal spot for a cat, it turns out.
The cat was spotted trotting along the field during the eighth inning before running into left centerfield with a speed that made scouts turn their heads.
“Look at this thing go, this is faster than anyone on the Yankees,” announcer Kevin Brown said on the Orioles’ broadcast.
The crowd cheered, chanting “MVP,” as the terrified creature seemed frantic to search for an exit.
“I feel a mixture right now of amused and sad,” Brown said. “Somebody’s gotta get the cat. Just let him into the bullpen.”
Sarah Hollars, community cats coordinator for Animal Care Center of NYC, said, “Chasing a scared cat is never a good idea,”
But that’s exactly what the grounds crew did. They chased the cat after failing to surround the creature. The cat ended up jumping onto the inside of the fencing, where it ran along the perimeter of the field, even trying to jump over the top.
Personnel standing right behind the bullpen door did not open it when the frazzled feline was nearby, missing a potential exit from the field on two different occasions. Finally, a door was opened to the stands down the third-base line and the creature escaped.
Orioles outfielder Cedric Mullins said he saw the cat in the dugout earlier in the game and let it be, according to mlb.com.
Directing the cat to a stadium exit or opening a door to a smaller space where a rescue professional could retrieve the cat would have been the best way to handle the situation, said Elyise Hallenbeck, director of Strategy for Bideawee Animal Rescue’s Leadership Giving & Feral Cat Initiative.
“They should be grateful that they weren’t able to lay hands on it, because the cat would have won that,” Hallenbeck added. “The cat was severely and terribly, terribly, frightened.”
Hallenbeck and Kellye Pinkleton, director of Public Policy for Companion Animals at The Humane Society of the U.S., both acknowledged that the stadium workers aren’t equipped to handle a cat on the loose.
As for how the cat made its way into Yankee Stadium, Hallenbeck couldn’t tell from the viral video whether the cat was a lost pet, feral or friendly. Pinkleton guessed the cat was a stray.
Hallenbeck reached out to nearby community cat caretakers and has not heard about the celebrity cat’s whereabouts.
Caretakers look over feral cat colonies in the city, making sure local strays are neutered, fed and given medical care and warmth during the winter while still living together outdoors.
There are 484 stray colonies in the Bronx registered with the Bideawee rescue, with an average size of 25 cats. There are at least 12,000 stray cats being cared for by certified volunteers in the borough, and many more not registered with the rescue, Hallenbeck said.
MLB did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Aliya Schneider is contributor for the Bronx Times.