2018-07-01 / Shorts

On the Ball

Bob the Baseball Dog welcomes Spikes fans to home games.
Robyn Passante | Photos by Matt Fern

You know Bob has reached his office and started working by the way he ambles down hallways and up aisles, greeting people as he goes.

And also by the way he carries his own leash in his mouth.

Bob the Baseball Dog has been a staple at State College Spikes games for nearly a decade. Brought to the franchise as a puppy to help represent the Spikes, the 10-year-old Labrador retriever is now handled and cared for by Mark McFall and his family, including his wife, Mary Alyce Nelson, and his sons Marcus McFall, 21, and Ian McFall, 12.

“He is special,” says McFall, who runs the VIP parking lot for Spikes games. McFall was asked if he wanted to become Bob’s caretaker and handler when Bob was 4 and his first host family had moved away. “He needed a home. He needed a pack. He needed a job. He’s such a good dog, and he’s here to please. He’s just been a great addition to our family.”

McFall says Bob is semi-retired these days, opting not to wear his official Spikes vest anymore or bring the umpires the first bucket of balls before the game, as he used to do. But he accompanies McFall on his VIP parking duties, greeting visitors to the ballpark and accepting treats from the regulars.

“People bring bones and throw them to him,” McFall says. “It’s hilarious.”

The duo typically heads into the ballpark somewhere around the second inning, at which point Bob makes his rounds to stop and greet whoever wants to give him a friendly pat — or a French fry.

“There are people who bring treats, so he knows their location,” McFall says. “And kids love him. He is our gentle giant. He is incredibly tolerant of children.”

Occasionally Ian will take Bob out onto the field between innings to participate in dizzy bat races or some other extracurricular fun. And he’s the Spikes’ official host of their popular, dog-friendly Bark in the Park nights.

“Bob is a presence that everybody enjoys. He just provides another connection between the Spikes and the community,” says Joe Putnam, manager of communications for the Spikes. “He’s one of those that fans look forward to seeing every year.”

Sometimes Bob and McFall stay for the entire game; other times they cut out early, if it’s too hot or Bob seems tired.

“He’s OK with the fireworks but doesn’t love them,” McFall says.

Even with limited duties, Bob is a bit of a celebrity around the ballpark. You can even buy a Bob the Baseball Dog stuffed animal in the gift shop.   

“He gets a lot of hits on Facebook,” McFall says proudly of his furry pal. •SCM

2018 Bark in the Park Dates:
July 1 | Aug. 1 | Aug. 30

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