The Minnesota Twins' home opener Thursday ended with a win for the home team, but the only thing anyone can talk about is the amazing poise Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton put on display when a bald eagle landed on his shoulder.
Eagle at Twins opener attempts to abduct Mariners pitcher James Paxton pic.twitter.com/pzswZ7HPZu— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) April 5, 2018
During the National Anthem, Paxton was standing alone in left field at Target Field between warm-up throws. Just before the anthem began, the eagle decided to use the left-hander's shoulder as a perch. At first, Paxton moved his body to get out of the way of the big bird and it landed on the grass.
As its handler rushed towards the pitcher, the bird got off the ground again, flew towards Paxton and landed on his shoulder. Rather than running around, Paxton just stood there until the eagle left and decided to set on the ground again. The handler arrived and no one was hurt.
"I'm not gonna outrun an eagle, so just thought, we'll see what happens," Paxton told reporters after the game, reports the Associated Press. "It was coming right for me and I was like, 'All right, the guy is over there. And I'm not the eagle guy.' But I guess this eagle was just confused, apparently the first time ever. I was just standing there trying not to panic."
Paxton is Canadian, so he joked that the American bald eagle knew his nationality and was coming after him.
"I kind of ducked it so it wouldn't fly into my face. It was, I think, trying to stand on my back,'' Paxton told reporters. "And then I thought, `OK, if I can stand up slowly, maybe it'll just rest on my shoulder. But as I stood up, he kind of fell off my back a little bit and was kind of clawing to try to get back up on my shoulder. But then as I stood straight up, it fell back onto the ground.''
After that, Paxton just went back to his warm-ups as if nothing happened. He said he did feel a "sharp pain," but there were no scratches.
"That's not the first time I've seen a bald eagle, but it was the first time I've had one try to land on me," Paxton said.
Other players on both teams had a good laugh over the incident. Twins catcher Mitch Garver called it "terrifying," but Twins closer Fernando Rodney joked about trying to use one of his celebratory imaginary arrows to bring it down.
In the end, the eagle landing did not give Paxton any luck. The Mariners lost 4-2, bringing their early 2018 record to 3-3. Paxton gave up a two-run home run in the sixth and got a no-decision.
Photo credit: Twitter