June 4, 2013 at 1:51 PM ET
Baseball and cats -- purrfect together!
The pets with nine lives will have a chance to watch the sport with nine innings as the minor league team, the Wilmington Blue Rocks, stage an unusual promotion on Tuesday night. They're calling it "Purr in the Park" where the team plans to pay tribute to felines by inviting fans to bring their cat into the ball park to watch the game against the Carolina Mudcats.
It's all part of the first ever "Cat Appreciation Night" at Frawley Stadium in Delaware's largest city.
The timing couldn't be any more purr-fect. June 4th is actually "National Hug Your Cat Day."
According to the team, the night will be highlighted by several activities including a tribute to famous cats (think Garfield), a booth to discuss the importance of spaying and neutering your pet (think Bob Barker), and of course the live game experience with a stadium (hopefully) full of felines and their proud owners.
"We have not seen a huge difference in sales leading up to the game, but we are hoping cat-lovers, who wish to pay tribute to their favorite animals, will make their way out to the stadium tonight," Matt Janus, a spokesperson for the Wilmington Blue Rocks, told CNBC.
Janus added that the actual number of cats in attendance is unimportant. "Our focus is on honoring a great animal, and raising awareness about the need for cat adoption in the state of Delaware. Cats are incredible pets, and we just feel like people will appreciate learning more about how to welcome one into their family."
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Over recent years there has been widespread adoption in both the minor and major leagues for "Bark in the Park" events that encourage dog lovers to catch a game with their favorite canine. In fact, the Wilmington Blue Rocks parent club, the Kansas City Royals just held one of these promotions over Memorial Day weekend.
While dog-themed events have generally gained acceptance, the Blue Rocks appear to be only the second minor league team to have ever attempted to cater towards the cat community by welcoming them into the stadium during a live game.
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For the past two years, the State College Spikes, an affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, have scratched through the issues around cat (and human) safety while managing to experiment with the promotional concept. According to MLB writer Benjamin Hill, there were a total of twelve cats in attendance for the inaugural edition back in 2011.
Back in Delaware, the Blue Rocks have consulted with "experts in cat safety and welfare," and have come up with a few policies for those planning to attend. Cats will be required to register at tables in front of the stadium before entering. Also, even though you might have envisioned a scenario where the furry friends were roaming free, the team is mandating that participating cats are required to be kept inside a carrier at all times.
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Recognizing that some cats may tend to be a bit anti-social, the Blue Rocks recommend that fans should "take into consideration potential weather conditions (heat or rain) before bringing their cat to the game."
If all this sounds a bit too unusual and you'd prefer to sit things out for another game, the Blue Rocks also have a Wizard of Oz theme night set for Wednesday.