Cards grounsdkeepers take on squirrels
Busch Stadium officials said they were taking steps to control a squirrel infestation that was visible during Games 3 and 4 of the National League Division Series between the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.
Bill Findley, head groundskeeper at Busch Stadium, said Thursday there were at least two, but possibly multiple, squirrels in the park and his team hopes to have the issue resolved before baseball returns to the stadium.
The Phillies and Cardinals will play a decisive Game 5 in the best-of-five NLDS on Friday at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. If St. Louis wins, it will host Games 3 and 4 of the best-of-seven National League Championship Series next Wednesday and Thursday. A possible Game 5 would be played Friday at Busch Stadium.
"It's a little strange," Findley said. "I didn't know something so small could cause such a big uproar."
There have been multiple squirrel sightings. On Tuesday, one was seen running along the third-base line in foul territory. On Wednesday, another one scampered across home plate in the fifth inning as Phillies pitcher Roy Oswalt threw to Cardinals second baseman Skip Schumaker.
Seven wire traps have been placed around the field. Each trap contains peanuts and a dab of peanut butter as bait. Once the squirrels are contained, stadium crew plan to release the rodents in an undetermined area outside the stadium.
No squirrels had been trapped as of Thursday afternoon.
"We have to control them and keep their energy contained in an area where they won't interrupt the play of the game or be a hazard to any of our fans," Joe Abernathy, vice president of stadium operations, said.
"Like most of the fans, we're having a little fun with it," he added. "But from a stadium-operations standpoint, we have a problem we need to deal with."
Cardinals skipper Tony La Russa took part in the fun as well during his news conference in Philadelphia on Thursday, mentioning that the squirrel might make an appearance in Philly.
"Well, we've kind of figured, you know about Allen Craig's pet tortoise? Do you know about that? Allen Craig has a pet tortoise, and my understanding is that the squirrel was the tortoise's pass to the game, and they're supposed to be here [Friday] together, and I don't know if the tortoise took a walk and the squirrel panicked," La Russa joked.
"I don't know the rest of that story, but I think that the squirrel is attached to Craig's tortoise, and I'm expecting them to be here [Friday]," he added. "Maybe they have a suite so they won't be running on the field. I've never met it. I actually want to meet the tortoise. The squirrel, too."