It’s not everyday you see a bald eagle land on a player during any type of pregame ceremony.
Prior to Thursday’s game against the Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners pitcher James Paxton had an up close and personal encounter with the bird, who briefly flew onto his shoulder as he stood in the outfield. Paxton was seemingly unbothered by the ordeal, only moving to avoid any contact with his face.
It’s a stroke of irony that the bald eagle, which was chosen to be the national bird of the United States in 1782, would land on Paxton of all people. Born in Ladner, British Columbia, the 29-year-old pitcher hails from Canada, and the Mariners wouldn’t let you forget it. A section of Safeco Field in Seattle is called Maple Grove, an homage to his nickname “Big Maple,” which was given to him by former bench coach Tim Bogar. When Paxton has two strikes on a batter, the home crowd breaks out into an “Eh” chant, a reference to the stereotypical interjection used by Canadians.
Maybe the bald eagle's stunt was somehow purposely done by the Twins to throw Paxton off his game, and help Minnesota get a win in their home opener. All of this is purely speculative and can be entirely wrong, but who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory? Whatever the case may be, the Twins won 4-2.