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Your lifestyle, your quirk
If someone told you there was a chicken in the Mets’ clubhouse, you might assume it was a frightened player. Last weekend, it was an actual chicken. After Mets closer Frank Francisco called the rival New York Yankees “chickens,” reliever Tim Byrdak thought it would be funny to present him with a live chicken, so he did. Byrdak sent a clubhouse attendant to Chinatown to buy the bird for $8 on Friday June 22. When he presented it to Francisco, Byrdak initially told him the Yankees were behind the gag gift, though Francisco figured out that Byrdak was the culprit.
The female bird was named Little Jerry Seinfeld, after Kramer’s fighting rooster (that he originally thought was an egg-laying hen) on Seinfeld. During Friday’s pregame, Little Jerry ran around the clubhouse. Little Jerry spent Friday and Saturday night in a cage at Citi Field, where the Mets play (there’s no word on where the cage came from or whether they keep them on hand at the field). The chicken had meals fit for an athlete: Team Chef Theresa Corderi researched what chickens could eat and prepared meals of oatmeal, berries, and bread. Corderi also tweeted photos of the chicken.
A reporter covering the story contacted Farm Sanctuary, who said that they would be happy to give the chicken a home. No cage in Citi Field can compare to Farm Sanctuary, a 175-acre shelter near Watkins Glen, New York. A woman named Susanna reached out to Byrdak via Twitter and asked him to contact Farm Sanctuary about the chicken. The Mets’ public relations staff then contacted the sanctuary to let them know that Byrdak wanted to send the bird there.
"We really didn't think the whole process through of actually having a live chicken and what we were going to do afterwards with him," Byrdak said. "So we decided we need to find a home for this thing pretty quick because we were going on the road."
You don’t say? He also mentioned that he learned that when buying animals you should “[m]ake sure you have someone to take care of it when you don’t need it anymore, really to make some sort of home for him.”
I would like to think that most people don’t buy a live animal to fit a temporary need…
Little Jerry was picked up by Farm Sanctuary media relations specialist Meredith Turner outside the Mets clubhouse on Sunday June 25, along with a $500 check to pay for the chicken’s care. According to Turner, the team “got to know the chicken as an individual” and found that “chickens are intelligent, charming animals with their own personalities.” Byrdak has learned the importance of planning ahead when buying an animal, and he’s pleased that Little Jerry won’t be eaten.
While live mascots are common in college sports, they are rare in Major League Baseball. However, Little Jerry is not the first live, temporary mascot in the MLB. Rally Squirrel, an American gray Ssuirrel who had taken up residence at Busch Stadium, became the St. Louis Cardinals’ unofficial mascot when it ran through the outfield in Game 3 and across home plate in Game 4 during the 2011 National League Division Series. Much like how Citi Field was no place for Little Jerry, Busch Stadium was no place for a confused squirrel who ran onto the field in fits of confusion. A squirrel believed to be Rally Squirrel was removed from the stadium on October 8, 2011, and a total of four squirrels were taken out of the stadium as of October 11. All of the squirrels were handed over to the Wildlife Rescue Center, and the suspected Rally Squirrel was released near the center’s facility in Ballwin, Missouri. The big difference here is that the Rally Squirrel ended up in the stadium on its own; no one bought it.
While the whole story started with a pretty dumb joke, it all ended well, with Little Jerry getting a much better home than most of the $8 chickens will. Little Jerry is even a bit of a celebrity now, with Byrdak hinting that she may get her own webcam at the sanctuary. Due to the chicken’s new popularity, a rubber chicken will stand in for Little Jerry at future games. Comedian and former Seinfeld star “Big” Jerry Seinfeld, tweeted “Yes! @mets #rallychicken comes through!” after the Mets came back to tie the Yankees in Sunday’s game.
The rubber chicken must not be as good as the real thing, because the Mets eventually lost.