BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Bakersfield Blaze fans had already gathered before the gates opened to enter Sam Lynn Ballpark.On this Tuesday evening, they showed up to see more than just the game between the Blaze and Lancaster JetHawks."We like the Blaze, but we want to see the cat, too," said fan Joan Coronado.
For the last week, Tara, the hero cat, has been the center of attention not just in Bakersfield but around the world.The cat was caught on video coming to the rescue of 4-year-old Jeremy Triantafilo. A neighbor's dog attacked Jeremy as he was on his driveway.The dog was biting his leg when out of nowhere, Tara bolted to the boy's defense. The dog took off, with Tara in pursuit.
The Blaze invited both Jeremy and Tara to throw out a ceremonial pitch before Tuesday night's game.
"The world has run with this story to the point that we could never have seen this coming," said Dan Besbris, director of broadcasting with the Blaze.
Fans were puzzled how the cat would pull off the pre-game "pitch."
"I can't figure out how that cat is going to throw that ball," said Blaze fan Ed Enderle.
Tara couldn't have done it without help from Blaze pitching coach Tom Browning."We went directly to a two seam fastball," said Browning, who noticed that the nails on Tara could be problem if she tried to throw something else.
Fans weren't the only ones lining up and waiting for Tara to make her cameo. Media from Russia, Germany, Brazil and Japan were on hand to capture the moment.When the Triantafilo family arrived with Tara in a carrier, they were surrounded by reporters, cameras and microphones, asking everything about Tara and how the incident has impacted the family."It's been unreal for our family to be the center of all this," said the cat's owner, Roger Triantafilo.
Though his son Jeremy received 10 stitches as a result of being bitten by the dog, Jeremy is doing well.Just before the game, the Triantafilo family walked to the pitcher's mound. Jeremy threw his pitch, a good throw to the catcher who was a few feet away.And, then it was Tara's turn.
Roger Triantafilo was holding her, put the ball in her paw and then "pitched" the ball toward the catcher, earning applause from the crowd.Lancaster beat Bakersfield 8-4 in a game that took a backseat for one night to its pre-game star.