Without a doubt, this season has been a rollercoaster- both in the standings and for our emotions. With streaks ranging from a 13-game win streak in August to a seven-game losing streak in September, the Yankees and their fans have been looking for something- anything to hang their hopes on as we approach the end of the regular season.
Enter Bronxie, the Yankees’ newest addition to the roster. As the story goes, many of the Yankees were interested in getting a pet. So Néstor Cortes Jr. (of course it was Néstor) convinced them to visit their local pet store and adopt a... wait for it... turtle.
That was a little over a week ago, and incredibly, the Bombers have since gone undefeated, including a colossal three-game sweep against the Red Sox at Fenway Park. While DJ LeMahieu is said to “just stare” at the reptile a lot, other players have really taken to the little guy, who spends his time either in a tank or strutting around the clubhouse. Whether the players are strong supporters of Bronxie, or simply tolerate him, we absolutely cannot argue with the fact that he has played a large role in the team’s success.
This had me thinking: are there other instances in Yankees history where animals have either acted as good omens or marked the beginning of a distinct change in the season? In short, yes.
On Opening Day in 2007, a bushy-tailed squirrel made his debut atop the right field foul pole. Initially taunted by fans (because hey, it’s New York), the Yankees went on to beat Tampa Bay 9-5. On June 8th, the squirrel made another appearance during the game, which the Yankees went on to win 5-4 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. On August 28th, the squirrel, by then referred to as Lucky, reappeared to watch the Yankees take on the Red Sox. Johnny Damon claimed to feed Lucky seeds before the game, and then went on to hit a monster upper-deck homer to right field, boosting the Yankees to a 5-3 victory.
Lucky’s final appearance came on September 4th when the Yankees clobbered the Seattle Mariners 12-3. Though New York fell to Cleveland in the ALDS that year, Lucky’s appearances sparked belief and fervor for both the team and the thousands of spectators during each of those four games.
More recently, another unexpected visitor made an appearance at Yankee Stadium. On August 2, 2021, a cat got loose on the field as the Yankees faced off against the Baltimore Orioles, sparking approximately seven minutes of robust applause and laughter as the grounds crew attempted to corral the little guy.
Prior to the incident, the Yankees were struggling, and though they lost the “Cat Game,” they went on to win 16 of their next 19 games, which included the 13-game win streak. So, even though I’m not saying the cat is to thank for the sudden upturn of events for the Yankees, I think it’s pretty fair to say it was a good luck charm right when the Yankees needed it the most.
And now here we are, toiling away at the very end of the season. The constant swings between World Series caliber play and hardly deserving of a playoff spot kinds of performances are enough to make anyone’s head swim. As we grind through these final, must-win games of the season, however, maybe a pet turtle is exactly what the Yankees need to punch their ticket to October baseball.