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Wayward cat runs through Wrigley Field during Cubs game

April 22, 2009 |  2:49 pm

An unidentified security guard chases a cat in left field during the fourth inning of a baseball game between the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field During the fourth inning of yesterday's Chicago Cubs-Cincinnati Reds game, a cat made an unplanned appearance at Chicago's Wrigley Field.

In the fourth inning, the frightened cat made a mad dash across the field, scratching and nipping at security guards as they tried to catch it.  Finally, one of the guards managed to grab the cat -- unfortunately by the tail -- tossing it into the stands and setting off a flood of vitriol by animal-loving baseball fans.  From the Chicago Tribune:

On a comment board on the Chicago Tribune's Web site, one reader wrote: "Grabbed the cat by his tail? This groundskeeper should be hung up by HIS TAIL."

Many others came to the cat grabber's defense: "He did what he had to do ... get over it."

Nadine Walmsley, vice president of development at the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago, described the incident as "just poor decisionmaking."

"A cat's tail isn't meant to hold their weight, so there could've been some injury to the cat," Walmsley said. "Also, holding the cat that way exposes the person to great danger because the cat was obviously scared and could've still lashed out and scratched or bit that person."

Fortunately, the Tribune's baseball blog Hard Ball reports, a kind veterinarian was in the stands and took charge of the cat. 

He gave it a veterinary exam (it's reportedly in good condition and suffered no ill effects as a result of the tail-grabbing) and plans to care for it until, ideally, its owner shows up at Wrigley to claim it.  If no owner comes forward, it'll be put up for adoption.

Cubs spokesman Peter Chase told the Tribune that it's unclear how the cat found its way into the ballpark (one theory is that it crawled through a knothole in the wall next to right field and climbed into the bleachers), but the Cubs don't believe it was set loose intentionally. 

While some animal lovers (and the cat itself) lashed out at the man who grabbed it by the tail, Chase defended him, saying the Cubs think "the young man who picked up the cat did the best he could in a very unique situation."

The Cubs have a storied history involving loose felines.  In 1969, a black cat walked past third baseman Ron Santo during a Cubs-Mets game and "cast a haunting glare at [Santo], then headed for the Cubs dugout, where it stared down the Chicago players as it skulked back and forth," according to Suite101.  The cat was blamed by many Cubs fans when the Mets won the World Series that year.  (Apparently yesterday's visitor didn't have such an effect on the Cubs; they won the game 7-2.) 

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: An unidentified security guard chases the cat during yesterday's game. Credit: Charles Rex Arbogast / Associated Press

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