INDIANAPOLIS — During "Bark in the Park" nights, the Indianapolis Indians will use its new bat dog for the first three innings of the game.
He's an employee unlike any the Indians have hired before.
“Eli is a Belgian Malinois," said Chris Altherr, owner of Sit Means Sit, a dog obedience academy in Kokomo.
Altherr is also the owner of the Indians' 14-month-old, four-legged bat boy.
"He actually signed his contract with the Indians when he was 12 months old," Altherr said.
Eli listens for his cue from just behind the backstop, stealing the spotlight in between batters.
“He picks up the bat and then he comes back, and as he's coming back, he'll drop the bat for the official batboy," said Altherr.
The Indians were excited to spice up an outing to a ballpark that was already a fan and canine favorite.
"We started it four or five years ago," said Cheyne Reiter, Indians director of communications. "It's been popular out in right field and in center field, but to keep things fresh, you bring in a dog that's going to fetch our home baseball bats. You can't beat that."
Getting Eli ready for his call-up to the pro ranks takes a lot of work.
“A lot of people refer to it as impulse control," said Altherr, a professional dog trainer. "We’ve got baseballs flying everywhere back there and his brain is screaming at him right now to jump on that field and go out there to one of those balls. It helps them to learn not to go after everything in sight.”
The next chance to see Eli in action is June 9. You can click here to see the complete Bark in the Park schedule.
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