The second we saw that squirrel dash past Skip Shumaker’s feet in the batter’s box before the Cardinals rallied to win a ball game last week, we knew somebody was going to find a way to make that critter into a profitable symbol. If the Cardinals end up as World Series Champions, the Rally Squirrel will enter a special part of baseball lore.
Even if the Redbirds don’t win it all, the Cardinals’ post season is a lot more fun because a squrrell dashed and darted away from possible captors twice. And the Cardinals are still alive in the playoffs.
Tee-shirt entrepreneurs jumped on the concept instantly. Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation made the squirrel a fund-raising project. Anheuser-Busch Inbev put up the $30,000 for the merchandise to be sold. And it was sold. Gone in 45 minutes. More is being produced. Cardinal Glennon, just to be clear, has no connection to the baseball team. It’s named for Cardinal John Joseph Glennon, a huge baseball fan who was the first Roman Catholic Cardinal west of the Mississippi.
It’s not just tee shirts. How about a baseball cap with a squirrel tail? Or maybe just a tail that you can twirl at rally time. Forget the towels so many other teams use. Those things are so common they’ve become sports clichés. Cardinal fans get to wave their tails.
Other places are peddling squirrel gear, too.
And the thing even has his own baseball card!
It even has squirrel statistics on the back, just like Skip Schumacher’s card has. According the card, the Rally Squirrel is four years old, is eight inches high, weighs ten pounds, and has a career record of 140 cars evaded. His favorite music is by the Chipmunks. He graduated from Acorn State.
When we heard the squirrel merchandise had sold out so quickly, we went to our backup supplier, ebay. Somebody was selling Rally Squirrel earrings, an RS Christmas ornament, and tee shirts. But one guy who is a taxidermist was selling a real stuffed squirrel on which he has mounted a little plastic red cap so that you can have your very own (stuffed) rally squirrel. Bidding already had reached $84.99 when we checked yesterday morning.
One character was offering a “Vintage” Rally Squirrel pin. How many other things turn “vintage” within four or five days of their introduction? Some other creative soul was offering “Nuts,” the squirrel Beanie Baby (remember how hot those were ten years ago?), billing it as a Retired Rally Squirrel.
The real squirrel, by the way, will not be leading any rallies at Busch Stadium anymore. He’s been captured and has been taken to the Wildlife Rescue Center where he’ll be checked to make sure is in good health and then will be released into the wild where he will live his life among real squirrels.
But he has provided a special spark to the Cardinals’ season. Long after the specifics of this post-season have faded from memory, the caps and shirts will still be worn.
And the tail? Long may it wave.