MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Twins were 1-1 when the squirrel showed up at Target Field, but when the game you won was a 14-4 romp, you latch on. So, they were hoping he or she would show up again for Wednesday’s series finale against the Chicago White Sox.
“We should keep him at the stadium,” slugger Nelson Cruz said after Tuesday’s win. “I guess he’s part of the team now, the 26th man.”
The Target Field grounds crew doesn’t think it’s so funny. They set traps for the popular interloper, and several members of the crew declined to address the “Rally Squirrel” at all early Wednesday.
“I’m not talking about the squirrel,” said not one but two of them, although one member opined, “T.C. Bear might be losing his job.”
That’s unlikely. The squirrel was a no-show Wednesday, just like the Twins’ normally potent offense in a 4-0 loss. Whether the squirrel remains popular for the rest of what has been a fun season is anyone’s guess but it was a big hit after appearances Monday and Tuesday.
A photo of the squirrel running unnoticed between Max Kepler’s legs on Tuesday posted to Twitter by the Twins had 86 replies, 1,000 retweets and 6,000 likes as of Wednesday morning.
The grounds crew set traps and vowed to release the squirrel, and any others, back into the urban wild if and when caught. That’s what Twins radio broadcaster Kris Atteberry did when a squirrel showed up in the Target Field booth earlier this year. He trapped it in a duffel bag and let it go in the parking lot.
“I can catch a squirrel,” he said. “It’s the Montana in me.”
Yes, Atteberry is from Montana.
So, what do we know about the squirrel? Frankly, not even whether the squirrel who invaded the Twins’ dugout during a 6-4 loss on Monday was the same little guy/gal who wandered into both the home and visiting dugouts on Tuesday. We do know that one of them has some money.
“He came out of the Champion’s Club,” said Kelly Laszlo, a field camera operator for Major League Baseball.
Laszlo, who thinks the squirrel should be called “Harmon Squirrelabrew,” said the squirrel had “a nice little adventure before it was even on camera” Monday.
She said the squirrel spent a good half hour with the unperturbed White Sox on Monday before dashing behind the batters’ boxes and into the Twins’ dugout, scattering players and earning a timeout from home plate umpire Gabe Morales. Slugger Miguel Sano ran out of the dugout, and catcher Mitch Garver climbed onto the fence.
Twins historian Clyde Doepner loved the story but has seen better. When the Twins played at the Met in Bloomington from 1961-80, he said, all sorts of animals could sneak into the stadium — “including humans,” he said. None of the doors or fences was locked down all that tight, he said. Two guys once snuck in while waiting in line for North Stars tickets and stole two distances signs from the outfield.
They were returned 40 years later.
“And they made a point to say it was being returned, not donated,” Doepner said.
Squirrels, birds and even cats showed up at the Met, where scavenging was productive.
“We had so many blackbirds they had to sweep the dugout,” he said. “They’d poop everywhere.”
After Tuesday’s game, Twins first baseman C.J. Cron — who hit a three-run double in a seven-run eighth inning — was unimpressed. “I guess I got nothing on that,” he shrugged. But manager Rocco Baldelli was buying in.
“The squirrel is real,” he said. “We might end up with a little mascot, or I wouldn’t be surprised if you found some T-shirts with some players’ faces on it or someone doing something like that pretty soon. I wouldn’t mind if the squirrel showed back up.
“If our guys are going to play like they did (Tuesday) with the squirrel running around, we’ll take the squirrel.”