“Bark in the Park” nights — in which fans are invited to bring their dogs to the stadium — have long been a promotional staple in Minor League Baseball. The State College Spikes are one of many teams to have staged such an endeavor, with next month’s version expected to draw over 400 canines.
This success led the team to ask themselves a truly daring, and seemingly absurd, question: “What if we did ‘Bark in the Park’, but for cats?”
What resulted was “Purr in the Park,” an evening-long celebration of felines.
Given their innate anti-social tendencies and general aloofness, the Spikes knew going in that “Purr in the Park” was not going to reach the proportions of its barking counterpart. The final cat attendance total was a modest, but still respectable, 12.The cats were granted entry so long as they were on a leash or in a carrier, and were welcome throughout the concourse as well as the right field seating area.
Cats were the focal point of the in-game entertainment, of course. The scoreboard graphics all had a feline theme:
Another apropos “Simpsons” character would have been the “Crazy Cat Lady,” who surely would have enjoyed the team’s meow-centric version of the “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
The night also included the “Nine Lives Challenge”, in which two hearty combatants participated in challenges such as the “Warm Milk Chug” and the “Kitty Litter Dig.” I particularly enjoyed watching the “Warm Milk Chug,” as the loser in the contest is escorted off the field by a sympathetic gorilla.
But as the Spikes pointed out in their press release, not even “Purr in the Park” could keep canines out of the ballpark: Not only are the Batavia MuckDOGS the Spikes’ opponent on the field, but fans can feast on $1 hot dogs all game long as part of Dollar Dog Monday.
But the Spikes weren’t about to let the Muckdogs steal the spotlight — not on this night! The Spikes scored two in the seventh and three in the eighth before Justin Bencsko homered in the ninth, propelling the home team to a thrilling 7-6 victory.
It was victory by a whisker; anything less would have been cat-astrophic.
“News” of dubious validity has been making the rounds today, not a surprise given that it is the first day of April. But what I am about to present to you is gloriously, hilariously real:
On July 11, the State College Spikes will be holding the first-ever “Purr In the Park” promotion.
“Purr in the Park” is, of course, a new twist on the canine-friendly “Bark in the Park” promotions that have spread like wildfire throughout the Minors. But dogs are generally obedient and social creatures. Cats, on the other hand…not so much. How this all turns out of course remains to be seen, but Spikes GM Jason Dambach seems confident that it’ll go off without a hitch. Or, more accurately, with one. He writes that all cats will need to be “leashed or in a portable carrier” and that there will be “cat-related promotions throughout the night” as well as tributes to the likes of Morris, Garfield, Heathcliff, and the black cat from Sabrina, the Teenage Witch (“Salem!”, as I was just reminded via email).
I’m hoping that Will Feral will also be moved to make an appearance. Regardless, I will make it my duty to follow this phenomenal feline story as it evolves.
— But for now, a personal anecdote: I’ve had some friends from Sweden staying with me this week, and this morning they shared a popular April Fool’s mantra from their country. It goes “April April Din Dumma Sill, Jag Kan Lura Dig Vart Jag Vill.”
This translates to “April April You Stupid Herring. I Can Fool You Whenever I Want.”
Less than five minutes after learning this hilarious couplet, the following bit of news appeared out of Memphis:
This morning a 7’2″ pitcher from Sweden, Sloof Lirpa, signed a season-long contract with the Memphis Redbirds.
The 24-year-old pitched four perfect games while playing in the Sverige Baseball League, leading the league in strikeouts, innings pitched and maintaining an ERA under 1.00 all of last year.
Loek Van Mil was unavailable for comment.
Another team guilty of a suspiciously-timed announcement are the suddenly ubiquitous Akron Aeros, who unveiled the news that “Homer the Polka-Dotted Pigeon” will be their new mascot:
This one might actually be true, as the Aeros had fans vote on the bird’s name throughout the week via an online fan poll. And this is an industry that has created Rally Pickles, Anthropomorphic Biscuits, and a DeerBanana, so is a polka-dot pigeon really that much of a stretch?
Minor League Baseball: Making stupid herrings of us all.