Glowing yellow eyes shrouded in fluff guard the streets of Denver’s Ballpark district around a kingdom built on the backs of baseballs, bats, and feral cats – a time-tested American tail.
On Friday night, a daring cat dared to go where few of his comrades had gone before – going viral by shooting across a Major League Baseball field mid-game – and stole the collective hearts of sports fans across the country.
But in the bowels of the baseball field is a group of wild felines, according to those who regularly play Rockies games. It’s the cats from Coors Field, and their fans say they help keep the joint – and the mice – going.
A few facts about the felines whose street wits disgraced Dinger: They’ve built a loyal fan base, complete with paparazzi. They called LoDo home for decades, even before Coors Field was built. And they are elusive.
While a Rockies spokesperson told The Denver Post last weekend that a number of feral cats live around the baseball field, the team’s PR squad turned down another request to discuss the stadium’s clandestine cat residents.
Hi. Happy Caturday! pic.twitter.com/65DI03CGMW
– Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) April 3, 2021
A ballpark employee eager to share photos and video of the beloved animals declined to speak on the record for fear of retaliation for daring to speak out about the winning beasts in the stadium.
And this reporter, who may or may not be circling the park’s perimeter with catnip and sending out the “pspspsps” cat call just to be cold only, suspects the cats aren’t talking either.
“I had heard about the cats in Coors Field for years from friends who work for the team,” said Shannon Hurd, a Rockies superfan and season ticket holder.
One cat Hurd said doesn’t shy away from the spotlight: Coors Field Cat.
No, not the gray stripe that stormed the diamond on national television, but a neat black and white cat with a pink nose who is so often spotted that he or she is the subject of a Twitter account managed by Hurd
Hurd, a 34-year-old who lives at Highlands Ranch, considers the stadium her second home. No home is complete without a pet, and Hurd is lucky enough to have a group of feline friends at Coors Field.
“I almost always see one,” Hurd said of her visits to the baseball field. “I still dream of one running over my lap. I would be the person who would try to catch it and take it home. “
Hurd’s love for the game and four-legged friends led the staff at Coors Field to share photos, videos and knowledge of the furballs roaming the stadium so they can be seen on the @BuienRadarNL Twitter account.
BREAKING: Found another cat at Coors Field pic.twitter.com/ikJ3q4pkFI
– Danielle Allentuck (@d_allentuck) April 3, 2021
“Legend has it that one of them pooped on home plate once,” Hurd said. “Of course not during a competition.”
Derek Kessinger, who used to work in concessions at Coors Field, regularly saw cats when the park was mostly empty. He cherishes a 2018 photo he snapped of a black beauty hanging around a staircase.
“The idea of living in a baseball field is so cool,” said Kessinger. “Coors Field is great for fans, but there is nothing better than being one of the few people in the stadium. If you were a cat, that’s a perfect life – just lay in the sun by the baseball field. “
– Coors Field Cat (@CoorsFieldCat) October 27, 2020
The cats likely have a long and storied future at Coors Field, Hurd said flaunting pictures of kittens in the baseball field learn the ropes from their acclaimed parents.
Barbara Ford, who worked as a meter reader in Denver in the late 1980s and early 1990s, said a colony of feral cats has lived in the Ballpark neighborhood for decades.
With a route taking her through the area where Coors Field was built in 1995, Ford said she regularly encountered feral cats near 20th and Larimer Streets.
“I had cat food and water for them in my car,” Ford said. “There were dozens and dozens. It used to be a bunch of old warehouses nearby, and they were all over. I even held a few kittens. “
Ford wondered if anyone was watching over the cats at Coors Field. Sometimes a cat colony attracts an animal lover who traps, spayes and lets go of the wild kitties – an activity known as TNR – Ford said.
Calls to local veterinarians and TNR enthusiasts in the area didn’t come across much to Coors Field’s cats, other than keen interest from some to get involved.
Jenni Leigh, a local kitten rescuer and TNR attorney, called her fellow TNR friends and couldn’t find anyone claiming to be the Coors Field cats, so she decided to contact the Rockies and see if she could help the cats are caught, neutered, vaccinated and returned to their LoDo home.
As of Wednesday, Leigh had yet to hear – what could distract the ballpark staff’s attention this week? – but she was determined to help after repeatedly watching the viral video of the brave cat hopping on the field last week.
“Cat ladies all over the world are now thinking about the Coors Field cats, so now is the time to make sure they are taken care of,” said Leigh.
As for Hurd, she plans to continue her Twitter account, where the number of followers has increased by 20% since the gray cat took to the field last weekend.
“I dream of the day when I could grab one, take it home, name it after a player – something like Nolan Paw-anado or Charlie Black Cat – and build a little house for it that’s exactly looks like Coors Field, ”said Hurd.