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A tiny 4-month-old long-haired kitten became known as the legendary “Rally Cat” after running onto Busch Stadium, home of the St. Louis Cardinals, during a baseball game on August 9, 2017. What followed was extraordinary, as one small feral kitten became a viral subject for Major League Baseball. 

Here is a condensed version of Rally Cat’s story, followed by a wonderful update on where he is today. 

Rally Cat Appears on the Field

After the cat’s surprise appearance on the field, 88,000 people watched as a young grounds crew member, Lucas Hackmann, ran to get the scared biting and scratching cat. From there, a bloodied Hackmann sat the cat down, and the cat wandered away from the stadium.

Minutes later, the cat’s random appearance was taken as an omen of good luck when the Cardinal’s Yadier Molina hit a grand slam. As a result, the team went on to victory against the Kansas City Royals. Now, the little cat would become famous, and so would the people around him, for better and worse.

Rally Cat appears at Busch Stadium

Image via Twitter

⚾ Rally Cat and Rally Squirrel? 🐿️

As ESPN put it, the cat’s appearance on the field was greeted with superstition, following another even involving a squirrel years earlier. 

“Had it happened in another city, in another sport, perhaps the kitten would have faded into a statistic, one of an estimated 70 million stray and feral cats wandering the United States. But baseball fans are a superstitious lot, especially in St. Louis. Ten years after the Cardinals won their last World Series, a portion of their fan base firmly believes it wouldn’t have happened without the Rally Squirrel that ran across home plate during the 2011 National League Division Series,” reported Elizabeth Merrill.

Interestingly, the squirrel ran right in front of home plate.

See the Rally Squirrel:

Lucas Hackmann Suddenly Famous

After the turn of events for the Cardinals, everyone wanted to know more about Rally Cat. However, the cat was initially missing. In the meantime, Lucas Hackmann was thrust into the spotlight, becoming known as the “cat guy.” He was instantly famous, appearing on the news, in a Conan O’Brien skit, and appearing as a bobblehead holding Rally Cat.

Although he volunteered to chase the cat, he didn’t anticipate the scared kitten’s reaction as he defended himself. Next, Hackmann went to the hospital to receive bandages for his hand. It’s quite similar to what we recently saw at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium when well-intentioned fans saved a cat at a football game. 

As Jackson Galaxy put it, people seem to misunderstand cats. 

“Let’s imagine if it was a dog on that field,” said Galaxy. “We would be able to read that dog, and understand their fear,” he said. “We wouldn’t be screaming, we wouldn’t be goading them on, we wouldn’t be laughing.”

Furthermore, he says, “We would feel sorry for that dog because we get dogs. We don’t get cats.”

See Hackmann from Bally Sports Midwest:

Where Was Rally Cat?

Initially, the little grey cat may not have been of interest to many people. However, now he was elevated to Rally Cat status and the subject of intense media attention. Certainly, many Cardinals fans saw the cat as a good luck charm. As it turned out, the kitten had quite a time before luck would turn his way.

Cardinal’s fan Korie Harris had witnessed Hackmann leave with the kitten. As a cat lover, she wanted to save the cat. So, she immediately rushed to find him, which she did. 

“He was just in this corner on the ground,” Harris said, “and there were a couple of people standing around him. I was like, ‘Hey, that’s my cat; I’ll take him home because he’s really scared.’ At that point, I still don’t think Yadi had hit the home run. We just left right away.”

However, on the way there, Rally Cat escaped into a park. The next day, Harris says she received lots of unwanted attention from strangers and the news when the Cardinals issued a statement saying they intended to care for the now-famous cat, per ESPN.

St. Louis Feral Outreach Finds Rally Cat

That night, a group of women from St. Louis Feral Outreach arrived to find Rally Cat. Drawing on their TNR program know-how and experience, they were finally able to trap the kitten late that night safely.

Rally Cat gets a vet check via Facebook/St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach

Below, STLFCO’s Lindsey explained what happened after rescuing Rally Cat at 3:45 am.

However, at that point, the drama was only just beginning. Soon, a custody battle for the cat played out in the media after a news conference about the cat.

Now, the team wanted to plan a “Welcome Home” ceremony and “Rally Cat Appreciation Day. Also, they planned to house the cat at the stadium, drawing concern from the women. Suddenly, people were coming from everywhere wanting to get their mitts on the famous cat.

Perhaps, the cat could live with one of the players in a home? Meanwhile, Rally Cat merchandise helped support the TNR programs.

Rally Cat Lawyers Up

From there, it turned into a “catfight” in the media. We won’t go into all the details here, but essentially, the women who found Rally Cat had to lawyer up. 

On Facebook, STLFCO shared the news, saying they would put the kitten’s best interests first, just like any other cat. 

“Although he is truly a special little guy, we are committed to treating him the same way we’d treat any cat – and that means putting his best interests first,” the group stated.

Likewise, prominent St. Louis lawyer Albert Watkins representing the women pro bono said: 

“While he will always be a Redbirds fan, he has to think about his future as well,” Watkins said. “His working days in the playing fields of Busch Stadium appear to be over. … Much like any custody battle for children the world over, what’s important here is what’s in the best interests of the health and welfare of the cat.” 

Thus, there was quite a battle over one little stray kitten.

For more, you can hear the story in the ESPN Daily podcast here.

Rally Cat Finds a Loving Home

In the end, Rally Cat stayed with the women, and the Cardinals donated to the STLFCO’s efforts. However, even now, the women still get requests to adopt the famous baseball cat. In some cases, baseball fans have offered cash up to thousands of dollars, to no avail.

Today, the group occasionally posts updates as Rally Cat is enjoying life as an ordinary house cat. However, he usually goes by the name of R.C., and his location still requires secrecy.

“Rally Cat update: R.C. is enjoying his retirement with his human sibling and kitty best friends. He is still a little shy around strangers, but he’s blossomed into a total lap cat with his family.”

More about how ESPN writer Elizabeth Merrill learned about Rally Cat today in the tweet below:

According to ESPN, the cat’s owner says R.C. “likes lounging in his catio, is afraid of the vacuum, and occasionally sleeps on the back of one of the family dogs. He has dog-like tendencies and drools when he’s happy.” 

“They call him R.C., but when he gets in trouble, he is sternly called by his full name. Rally Cat.”

A Famous Baseball / House Cat

In September 2017, STLFCO shared a Rally Cat update on Facebook.

“Rally Cat is really flourishing in his foster home with his foster sister, Winnie.” 

In 2018, STLFCO shared a Rally Cat update on their Facebook page.

“Rally Cat update: R.C. is enjoying his retirement with his human sibling and kitty best friends. He is still a little shy around strangers, but he’s blossomed into a total lap cat with his family.”

Recently, STLFCO shared another update. 

“Four years later, ESPN looks back on the wildest time in FCO’s history, when we caught a famous cat. And to commemorate the occasion, Rally’s owners provided us with a picture of him, a happy adult cat.”

A Happy Ending

Thus, the story has a happy ending for the cat, and his story remains a part of Major League Baseball lore. Even better, his story helped raise awareness for the efforts of the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach. Despite the pandemic, the group helped over a thousand cats in 2020, they state on Facebook.

Recently, Rally Cat’s story became an animated video. (see below) 

See more in the animated story of Rally Cat in the Tweet and video below:

 

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