Bald Eagle Changes Intended Flight, Lands On Seattle Mariners Pitcher

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Pitcher James Paxton stayed remarkably relaxed as the bird, dubbed Challenger, pranced around his shoulder. Challenger’s trainer ran out to rescue Paxton.

A Seattle Mariners pitcher received quite a surprise while warming up for his game on Thursday.

A bald eagle, which was part of the pre-game ceremonies in a bout against the Minnesota Twins, strayed from its intended flight plan and landed on James Paxton’s back. The bird was supposed to fly across an American flag.

The pitcher stayed remarkably relaxed as the bird, dubbed Challenger, pranced around his shoulder. Challenger’s trainer ran out to rescue Paxton.

“I guess the eagle knew I was Canadian. I don’t know. But it came for me,” Paxton said. “Figured I’m not going to outrun an eagle, so might as well see what happens.”

“I kind of ducked it so it wouldn’t fly into my face,” he added. “It was, I think, trying to stand on my back. 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.”

The pitcher subsequently played five innings for the Mariners, who took to Twitter to laugh about the incident.

While many people on social media found the incident to be humorous, some raised concerns about animal rights. A few took cracks at President Donald Trump, who handled his interaction with the nation’s symbol much less graciously. All seemed to agree that Paxton reacted with incredible poise.

Thumbnail/Banner Credits: REUTERS/Jason Reed/Files

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