Back in October, a squirrel invaded Busch Stadium during the St. Louis Cardinals run to the 2011 World Series. Fredbird let it live out of kindness, and the rodent would become so popular, it took the place of Skip Schumaker on one of his baseball cards.
Finally, the mascot has been immortalized for all time on jewelry commemorating the Cardinals 11th world championship.
This is not satire: The Cardinals made "The Rally Squirrel" part of the design of their World Series rings, which they received on Saturday. You can clearly see it in the photo, under the "StL" logo and above the crest of the bats and home plate with Chris Carpenter's No. 29. If Schumaker thought a squirrel on his baseball card was "ridiculous," what must he think of the rodent on the most symbolic piece of bling a ballplayer can own?
I've seen it called "tacky" and it is, but here's the thing about these rings: They're not supposed to be understated. They're always over the top. When they're worn, they're done so obnoxiously. There's nothing humble or particularly beautiful about them. In fact, they're always kind of ugly, no matter the team. They're full of jewels and they're shiny, but it's always too much. They cost way too much money. The presence of a squirrel diminishes nothing.
It's actually kind of cool, because it was a part of history. The Rally Squirrel happened. It was part of the World Series experience. And it's not the only seemingly kooky addition the team made to the ring.
On the inside, the words "Happy Flight" are engraved. Rafael Furcal coined the phrase once the Cardinals started winning on getaway days. If the Cardinals were getting on an airplane the same day as a ballgame, they had an amazing streak of winning. Hence, they'd wish each other a "Happy Flight" after taking care of business on the field.
The inside of the ring also has another personal detail: The logos of the Phillies, Brewers and Rangers, the three teams that the Cardinals beat in the postseason last October.
One funny aside: No matter what the Cardinals might put on (or inside) a ring, it pales in comparison to what might have happened 100 years ago. In olden baseball times, the squirrel story arc is one that would get a team to adopt a new nickname.
The Cardinals weren't called the Cardinals until 1900. In the late 19th century, the Cardinals were referred to as the Browns and, for one season, the Perfectos. If R. Squirrel had appeared before 1900, back in the old American Association days when St. Louis frequently contended for a title, they might have changed their name to the St. Louis Squirrels in celebration of the title.
There would be two squirrels sitting on that bat — or gnawing on it — in the team's famous logo. Maybe something like this:
What does everyone think about calling them the Squirrels?
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