In sports, sometimes fans run on the field. Sometimes a band will run on the field. In Major League Baseball, a squirrel has delayed play once, or twice, or thrice in recent years. And in NCAA Div. II softball earlier this week, Western Oregon and Simon Fraser University experienced a dog delay.
A fan's pit bull ran onto the field during Game 1 of a doubleheader Sunday and proceeded to be the cutest college prospect in history, playfully stealing gloves from two different players and generally being a hilarious nuisance for about one minute in the third inning. The atmosphere in the crowd at college softball events can be picnic-like, sort of casual, and the dog apparently got through an open gate. He just wanted to play like the others were. The dog's owner eventually helped retrieve him.
The reaction of the Western Oregon players made the slapstick moment even funnier, as several players tried in vain to corral the dog and/or steal back the glove(s). They all looked like adults trying to knock teenaged Kelly Leak off his motorcycle in "Bad News Bears." Despite the unfortunate reputations pit bulls have for being aggressive or even dangerous (and some people just have a fear of dogs), the players seemed to be cracked up by the break.
Luckily for us, Western Oregon covers games with video and audio, so there's announcer play-by-play of the dog break. It all started when Simon Fraser's Kendra Goodman grounded to Jourdan Williams at third. What happened next was like "Air Bud" meets Fellini. The dog's first move was for Goodman's discarded bat.
Announcer 1: "Right to Williams at third, gets it over to first and there's a dog on the field!"
Announcer 2: "Oh, boy! That's something you don't see every day."
The dog didn't care for the bat and made a charge for pitcher Kelli Demianew inside of the pitcher's circle, but she kept possession of her glove. Shortstop Melanie Pfeiffer — who had a glove and the ball — was not so lucky. She kept the ball (always a doggie favorite) but her gamer was carried off into center field. Jackpot.
Announcer 1: "He just stole Pfeiffer's glove!"
But, because it was a dog that had only a slightly shorter attention span than the average North American human, he dropped the glove and went looking for the next challenge — left fielder Danielle Harcourt.
Announcer 1: "And now he's stolen the left fielder's glove!"
Announcer 2: "That's REALLY something you don't see every day."
Announcer 1: "He's just wreaking havoc on this game."
Announcer 2: "He's not giving the glove back."
Announcer 1: "No."
At this point, the dog pivoted and started running into the infield. Three or four players, including Pfeiffer, made weak attempts to get Harcourt's glove back. But this is a strange dog with a treasure, and it's a little risky to try and steal it away from a possessive animal. In a Butt-head moment (as in "Beavis and Butt-head"), the play-by-play resumed:
Announcer 2: "That's Harcourt's glove, huh-huh, huh-huh... Actually, that might be..."
Announcer 1: "That's Harcourt's glove. And he's just running away with it. There's nowhere to go."
The ordeal finally ended when the dog ran back, all of the way across the field, and toward a woman (not one of the active players) near the tarp. Looking for someone to play fetch with, the dog approached her and allowed the woman to rip the glove out of its mouth. She was a little scared (perhaps terrified), but the young woman had done the job.
Announcer 2: "I don't know who that is down the first-base line, but she got the glove away."
Not long after, Sparky ran to his owner and out a gate and the game continued after Western Oregon's players huddled for a moment to laugh it off. They swept both games of the doubleheader and celebrated a Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season championship.
And they have the best dog fans in college athletics.
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