Meet the Dogs of Minor League Baseball
Aside from the pool and the beach, there’s no better place to spend the dog days of summer than the ballpark. Our national pastime is especially exciting for fans of Minor League Baseball teams lucky enough to have furry, four-legged team dogs. Here are a few of the sporty canines who’ve fetched balls, retrieved bats, and trotted around the bases over the years. Keep an eye out for them on the diamond and across social media this season.
Dinger and Deuce (Myrtle Beach Pelicans)
This single-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs was among the first teams to draft a team dog. Dinger, a yellow Labrador Retriever, quickly became a fan favorite, as did his successor Deuce. Both dogs entertained fans by running the bases after Pelicans wins and helped keep the game moving by delivering baskets of fresh baseballs to the homebase umpires.
After a decade-long tenure as the Pelicans’ team dog, Deuce retired in 2018. He rounded the bases one last time to the delight of a stadium packed with his adoring fans.
Since 2008, Deuce has greeted fans in the Pro Shop, run the umpires fresh baseballs, and circled the bases after each Bird’s win. Tonight, after 10 years, we celebrate the best known dog in Myrtle Beach and wish this very good boy a happy retirement.
Thank you, Deuce. pic.twitter.com/fiBKxvr3yR
— Myrtle Beach Pelicans (@Pelicanbaseball) August 30, 2018
Chase, Derby, and Rookie (Trenton Thunder)
Trenton’s “first family of bat dogs” said hello to Thunder fans in 2000 when patriarch Chase began collecting bats after every home team at-bat. Chase’s son Derby followed in his father’s paw prints, as did his grandson Rookie, who made his debut in 2014. Among the most famous team dogs in baseball, the Thunder’s pups have been profiled in regional and national outlets, including ESPN. Ollie, another of Chase’s children, took the family business to New Hampshire, where he assisted the Fisher Cats until 2016.
Brooks (Frisco RoughRiders)
Fans at Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco, Texas first met Brooks during the 2015 season. While the Labrador Retriever’s career as a bat-collecting dog was short-lived, he continues to impress fans with his speed and agility around the bases. He’s a favorite in the front office too, where team employees call him the RoughRiders’ “Chief Morale Officer.”
Princess (Reno Aces)
Partnering with the Nevada Humane Society, the Reno Aces campaigned to find a forever home for ten-year-old Princess back in 2016. After ten months of bonding with the team and community, she was officially adopted by former Executive Vice President Andrew Daugherty. Princess didn’t just become a favorite of Aces’ fans, she developed into a local celebrity before retiring to Arizona with Daugherty.
Ozzie (Burlington Bees)
This little Collie doesn’t perform for fans out on the field, but he’s a fixture of the single-A team’s clubhouse and front office. Upon his introduction in 2020, the Bees’ official Twitter account revealed that Ozzie had accepted a role as “Director of Fur and Canine Relations.”
Though he isn’t a bat dog, Ozzie anchors our front office as Director of Fur and Canine Relations pic.twitter.com/7L8UImL61z
— Burlington Bees (@BurlingtonBees) July 1, 2020
Will More Dogs Get Called Up to the Majors?
Prior to Opening Day 2019, baseball blogger Andrew Mearns made the case for calling more canines up to the major leagues. Writing for MLB.com, Mearns detailed the decades-long role dogs have played in the minors and asked several experts for their thoughts on the viability of welcoming dogs into major league ballparks.
Eric Lipsman, Senior Vice President of Corporate Sales for the Thunder, cited the recent precedent set by professional hockey teams like the New York Rangers and Islanders. “I’m surprised that more haven’t done this,” Lipsman noted. Scott Burchett, Chief Operating Officer of the similarly dog-friendly Frisco Roughriders agreed that dogs would make a great addition to the MLB. “People love dogs, people love baseball,” he remarked, “and when you put those things together, I think that’s a winning combination.”
While no pups made their major league debut on Opening Day 2021, dog-loving baseball fans are hopeful that they’ll soon see four-legged players in the dugout and on the diamond.