By Greg DeVries
Beavers have played a significant role throughout the course of human history. They have made their way onto Canadian money and helped shape the economy of New Netherland.
The beavers are at it again. This time, a beaver is helping the Baylor baseball team win games. And whatever beavers do, they do well. The team’s current streak is up to 16 games. The team takes on Kansas State starting tonight in Manhattan, Kan.
“We saw the beaver in the parking lot right as the winning streak started,” junior left-handed pitcher (and unofficial team beaver expert) Crayton Bare said. “Max Muncy hit a home run, and Josh Michalec from the dugout yelled, ‘Feed the beaver!’ [The] joke is feeding the beaver with a home-run ball.”
The beaver frequents Baylor Ballpark’s parking lot. It comes up every once in awhile to eat acorns. Apparently, he has been eating his fill.
“It’s really big. It’s colossal in size,” Bare said. “The [Texas] Rangers have their antlers and their bear claw. We have our beaver.”
Since the beaver has blessed the baseball team with his presence, “feed the beaver” has caught on. Fans are wearing white T-shirts that depict a beaver holding a baseball and bat. The Baylor Beaver now has his own twitter feed. Baseball fans have been using the hashtag #FeedTheBeaver, which was trending at times over the last few weeks.
“I didn’t see it coming down to this, honestly,” junior left-handed pitcher Josh Turley said. “That’s how big of a deal it has gotten. Our Dia shirts [say], ‘Feed the beaver,’ and now they’re selling them.”
Head coach Steve Smith has appreciated the energy that the beaver has brought to the fans.
“I think [the fans] have enjoyed it. It’s unique. It’s ours. He’s our beaver. They don’t have one down at A&M or Texas,” Smith said. “It isn’t going to make a difference in winning or losing.”
Interactions with the beaver have been more than passive sightings. Players have taken pictures of the animal, and junior center fielder Logan Vick has even touched it.
“I’ve actually petted the beaver before. He’s getting really fat, so he’s not too fast,” Vick said. “I went out one day after practice and he was eating some acorns … one of the guys dared me to touch him. I touched him, and I don’t know. I had two hits the next day. It might have been a little luck. If I see him again, I am definitely going to pet him.”
The beaver is wild, and the team cannot take it to away games. To continue to feed the beaver away from Baylor Ballpark, the team has purchased a toy stuffed beaver.
“[The beaver] is kind of on his own schedule,” Bare said. “We have a little travel beaver that comes with us. I guess we just like him around.”
Smith has left this beaver craze to the players but takes a comical approach to the stuffed travel beaver.
“I don’t know if somebody sleeps with that thing or not. It wouldn’t surprise me if they did,” Smith said.
Feeding the beaver will not stop when the winning streak stops. The players hope to keep it going throughout the year.
“When we do lose a game, we’re still going to say it. It is still going to be a part of what we like to use as a rallying point,” Turley said. “Regardless, win, lose, it’s still there. It’s still feed the beaver.”
Vick takes a more optimistic, albeit unlikely, stance.
“Hopefully it’s a streak thing and a season-long thing,” Vick said. “That means we’re streaking all the way through.”
The Bears next opponent, the Wildcats, are 3-6 in the Big 12 and 17-15 overall. Baylor is currently in first place at 12-0 in Big 12 play and 27-7 overall.