LOOK: A bald eagle mauls Mariners pitcher James Paxton in the outfield during the national anthem
No, Mr. Eagle, James is not your handler!
It's not often you can double as a starting Major League pitcher and a bald eagle handler, but ladies and gentlemen, James Paxton did just that on Thursday.
And he did it without any warning.
The festivities before the day's bout between Paxton's Seattle Mariners and the host Minnesota Twins were proceeding as planned, with Paxton minding his business in the outfield during the national anthem. But when Challenger, the eagle assigned to a pre-game fly-in ceremony, decided to go rogue and live up to his name, the Mariners lefty had no choice but to play it cool and let said eagle land on him, fly off him and then land on him again.
We should note that Challenger is apparently an esteemed member of the American Eagle Foundation and has taken his talents to five World Series, plenty of other huge sporting events and even Disney's Animal Kingdom (his rumored childhood stomping grounds), so Thursday's slip-up was pretty out of the ordinary for him.
At one point, in fact, he looked darn close to thrusting his talons right into Paxton's shoulder (it was at this point, we'd guess, that Paxton, who hit the disabled list in August for a strained pec muscle, really started to worry). But the pitcher also never lost his composure, never once looking like this:
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