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Cardinals mock snakes with wild minor league promotion
Robbie catches snake
Palm Beach mascot Robbie the Redbird "captures" a rattlesnake and wrestles it into submission during a minor league baseball promotion prior to the Cardinals game against Vero Beach.

By Chuck King

JUPITER, Fla. – The Palm Beach Cardinals won’t let a little thing like a rattlesnake slow them down. Instead, they turned it into one of the most creative minor league baseball promotions of the season.

A week after a rattlesnake slithered into right field halting their game against Jupiter for 15 minutes, Palm Beach held “Good Riddance to Rattlesnakes Night” at Roger Dean Stadium.

The Florida State League’s Cardinals dressed intern Ryan Hewitt as a snake charmer and sent him onto the field before the game in an attempt to ward off any remaining snakes. As Eastern music played over the stadium speakers, a stuffed rattlesnake pulled by a piece of fishing line “crawled” up the net behind home plate.

“It was pretty good,” said Palm Beach fan David Boggett. “We were actually here last Friday and the kids saw the actual rattlesnake, so they knew right away what was going on. I think all the kids who were around us at the time thought it was kind of neat.”

The snake danced on the net for a few seconds before Palm Beach mascot Robbie the Redbird raced to the backstop, grabbed the fake rattler, and wrestled it into submission.

“I thought it was great,” said Ray Keatts, who was in the park as part of a separate promotion honoring area little league players. “It scared my 12 year old player. Ronnie Healy said, ‘That ain’t right’ when he saw Robbie grab the snake.”

snake eating contest
Youn fans participate in the between-inning gummy snake eating contest.

As part of the innovative minor league promotion, the Cardinals also hosted a between-inning gummy snake eating contest and give away rattles to the first 200 fans that entered the ballpark.

The Cardinals offered free admission to any fan that came to the ballpark with snake-themed apparel. At least 15 fans took advantage of the offer by showing snake tattoos, snakeskin purses or their own rubber snakes.

Palm Beach also converted its traditional peanut toss from the press box into a snake toss, sending rubber and gummy snakes soaring into the crowd.

“We had a strange occurrence with the snake last Friday and we thought we’d play on it a little bit,” Palm Beach general manager Chris Easom said. “We’re just trying to have a little fun. We think the fans will really enjoy it.”

Maintenance workers discovered the rattlesnake coiled behind the right field wall shortly before the first pitch of the April 6th game. A stadium official notified both teams of the potential danger before the first pitch.

It didn’t take long for the snake to come into play. The second batter of the game sent a ball to deep right, sending Palm Beach outfielder Nathan Southard to the wall.

“I was like, no way! This fly ball is going to the rattlesnake.” said Southard, who’d walked back to the fence to see the snake before the start of the game. “It didn’t, but it was close.”

Later in the game Southard could hear the snake rattling from behind the wall. The rattlesnake was eventually removed by a representative of the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary without incident.

That representative was on hand for the minor league baseball promotion, throwing out the first pitch.

Check out my blog for more on Crazy minor league promotions and fans.



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