Sports

Eagle lands on shoulder of Mariners' player during national anthem

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - - The biggest challenge for Seattle left-hander James Paxton at Minnesota's home opener came even before he started pitching on the 38-degree afternoon.
    
Paxton was standing alone in left field at Target Field, taking a break from his warmup throws for the pregame ceremony Thursday. That's when a bald eagle brought in for a flight over the playing field prior to the national anthem apparently became confused.
    
Rather than soaring to the mound to reach his summoning handlers, the bird's path went toward Paxton, causing him to jerk his body backward to avoid being grazed. Then the eagle, named Challenger, landed in the grass before circling back to find a perch on Paxton's right shoulder . One of the trainers hustled out to lure the bird safely away.
    
Paxton, coincidentally, is Canadian.
    
Minnesota fans, meanwhile, might have seen enough of eagles, too. The Vikings lost to the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC title game in January, then had the Eagles win the Super Bowl in Minneapolis in February.

The Mariners took an early 2-0 lead over the Twins.

The eagle landing on Paxton prompted a flurry of tweets in response:

Mariners@Mariners

Well. Now we know. pic.twitter.com/jqBq9yxQtN

Mariners@Mariners

Oh, just an 🦅 landing in a Big 🍁.@James_Paxton, totally fearless. pic.twitter.com/8xHYBTwNhC

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Mariners@Mariners

Replying to @Mariners

Oh, just an 🦅 landing in a Big 🍁.@James_Paxton, totally fearless. pic.twitter.com/8xHYBTwNhC

Matthew Kory@mattymatty2000

pic.twitter.com/vQ31OIO6zB

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Dozens of Minnesota Twins employees shoveled snow for days to get Target Field ready for the home opener against the Seattle Mariners.
    
About 75 employees used shovels to clear a record snowfall from the stadium this week. Workers also sprayed hot water in the stands and concourses to melt the snow.
    
Temperatures were brisk for Thursday afternoon's game against Seattle, hovering in the mid-30s. The team urged fans to bundle up and prepare for the possibility of game-time snow.
    
The mercury was at 35 degrees for the 2013 home opener at Target Field and was close to beating the record of 34 degrees set back in 1962 at Met Stadium.

KOIN 6 News contributed to this report


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