The story of the St. Louis Cardinals and Rally Cat officially has more twists than an M. Night Shyamalan film. The cat, which became an unofficial mascot for the team after sparking a late-inning comeback, is now involved in a custody battle between the Cardinals and the nonprofit center that found the feline.
The situation escalated Thursday after Cardinals vice president of communications Ron Watermon released a statement saying the team expected the center to return “our cat” after a mandatory 10-day waiting period, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
“The St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach organization has assured us they will be returning our cat to us after a mandatory 10-day quarantine period,” Ron Watermon, the team’s vice president of communications, said in an email to a reporter Wednesday.
Problem is, the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach organization never said anything about giving Rally Cat – which is now its official name – back to the Cardinals.
The initial statement from the nonprofit said many individuals and organizations reached out to adopt Rally. It made no definitive claim that the Cardinals owned the cat.
After hearing Watermon’s statement, the program shot back in a post on its Facebook page, accusing Watermon of using “bullying tactics” against them.
A few key lines in that statement stand out:
It was a disappointment to STLFCO and many of our friends and fans to read the Cardinal’s PR Head Ron Watermon’s comments to the media concerning Rally. It was a totally false statement that STLFCO has committed anything to the Cardinals. We have made no decisions about Rally’s long-term placement. It seems inconsistent with “The Cardinals Way” to make such false statements.
Due to our many commitments and complex schedules, we told the Cardinals we’d be delighted to meet later this month, the first time the entire group can meet with them to discuss the situation. Perhaps we can find a way to reach out to the Senior Leadership of the Cardinals (the Dewitts, Mike Whittle, etc) and meet with them, as Mr. Watermon’s perceived bullying tactics shocked us.
We truly want what is best for Rally and for every vulnerable cat in St Louis. We hope to connect with other members of Cardinal’s management shortly.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reached out to Watermon, who gave the following response:
“It is personally hurtful to me, irresponsible and, frankly, childish,” Watermon said in an email. “There is no need for the organization to personally attack me for doing my job.”
What we have here is a solid back-and-forth between a Major League Baseball team and a cat nonprofit regarding the ownership of Rally Cat. We never envisioned we would have to write that sentence.
While the St. Louis Feral Cat Outreach’s statement comes off as harsh initially, it does leave some room for optimism. The organization is willing to meet with the team to talk about the cat, but rules and procedures must be followed. It seems like it’s still possible the team could wind up owning the cat, but it’s not going to happen in 10 days.
Prior to the program’s Facebook post blasting Watermon, it expressed hope that Rally Cat could make his first appearance at “Rally Cat Appreciation Night,” which the team is planning for Sept. 10. It’s unclear whether the center’s position has changed following Watermon’s statement. The event may still go on, and Rally Cat may be there, but he may not be owned by the team.
The Cardinals have been quick to make Rally Cat a thing since the animal ran out on the field and was sparked with igniting a comeback after Yadier Molina hit a grand slam after the cat was caught. The club released a bizarre statement announcing it had lost the cat, which also included strange cat puns.
Somehow, the situation has gotten weirder.
There will likely be a few more turns before Rally Cat’s story finally reaches its conclusion. A little clarity would be nice, because we’re not sure whether we’re watching a comedy or a drama right now.
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