Sports

4 times birds tangled with Seattle athletes and the heavy price one paid

Errant eagle perches on Mariners pitcher Paxton

In one of the more memorable moments of pitcher James Paxton's career as a Seattle Mariner, an eagle briefly perched on his shoulder as players stood for the national anthem prior to a game versus the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis on April 5, 2018.
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In one of the more memorable moments of pitcher James Paxton's career as a Seattle Mariner, an eagle briefly perched on his shoulder as players stood for the national anthem prior to a game versus the Minnesota Twins in Minneapolis on April 5, 2018.

In an unprecedented display of U.S. patriotism for a Canadian, Mariners' pitcher James Paxton stood for the National Anthem with a bald eagle on his shoulder Thursday afternoon.

We were so moved, we started thinking about other interactions between birds and Seattle athletes. There have been a few. Some fair. Some fowl.

Here are our four most memorable:

AN EAGLE IN THE BIG MAPLE

During Thursday's national anthem in Minnesota, a bald eagle approached The Big Maple, as Paxton is known, before landing on the grass near him during the national anthem. The eagle then landed briefly on Paxton's right shoulder as the lefty pitcher tried to duck the bird.

WHEN DOVES CRY

On March 24, 2001, in a spring training game between Arizona and San Francisco, former Mariners ace Randy Johnson uncorked a pitch that destroyed a dove. The bird flew in between Johnson and the batter, Calvin Murray. Viewers at home saw an explosion of feathers. The bird died before it hit the ground. Johnson won the Cy Young and World Series MVP that season. The bird has been immortalized in YouTube videos and the logo for Randy Johnson Photography.

TAIMA IN THE CHEEP SEATS

Taima is a an augur hawk from Spokane handled by master falconer David Knutson, according to the Seahawks website. Taima plays the part of the Seahawks live mascot before games, swooping through the stadium and, usually, back to Knutson. But at one game Taima decided it would rather hangout in the stands with a fan. TV cameras caught the hawk attempting to land on a fan's head, before finding a perch on another fan's arm.

THAT NIGHT A BIRD GOT LOOSE IN THE KINGDOME

The Sonics had only 12 home games against Larry Bird, so he doesn't cause as many nightmares for fans as he does for other teams. But on Feb. 17, 1984, Larry Legend had one of his four triple-doubles in Seattle in a game played in the cavernous Kingdome. Bird had 30 points, 13 assists and 13 rebounds in a 111-100 Boston win.

Craig Hill: 253-597-8497
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