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Wednesday, April 30, 2003
Updated: May 1, 12:20 PM ET
Animals were harmed in making this list

By Jeff Merron
Page 2 staff

Ozzy the osprey lived a simple life, enjoying a view of Jackie Robinson Ballpark in Daytona Beach, Fla., from his perch atop a 40-foot lightpole. He liked baseball, nesting with his mate and playing with his brood of young chicks.

Sadly, Ozzy passed away on Monday, a week after Jae Kuk Ryu, a 19-year-old pitcher for the Class A Daytona Cubs, hit Ozzy with a baseball in an attempt to knock him off his home.

Also, we're sad to report this is not the first time something like this has happened. In honor of those animals who gave, so we could enjoy our games, our list of the worst 10 cases of sports and animal cruelty:

1. Jackie Sherrill's motivational move
Just before the 1992 season opener vs. the Texas Longhorns, Mississippi State head coach Jackie Sherrill showed his team, on the practice field, how a bull is castrated.

Jackie Sherrill
To Sherrill, the mascot's castration was nothing more than motivation.

"The whole story came up when I asked our players what a steer was and none of them knew what a steer was," Sherrill said after the incident caused a national furor. "People say (the Texas mascot) is a longhorn steer. Is that a bull, or is he a steer?"

Sherrill added that the demonstration performed on "Wild Willie" was done to educate and motivate the team. The motivational part worked, at least -- Missisippi State, a two-point underdog, won 28-10. After being widely criticized, Sherrill offered a quarter-hearted apology.

"Even though I was not involved in the procedure that took place, I take responsibility," he said. "If this incident was in any way not perceived as proper by those who love Mississippi State, then I apologize."

2. Rameses stabbed and gutted
On Feb. 25, 1996, North Carolina mascot Rameses XXVI, a ram who led the Tar Heels onto the field each football Saturday, was knifed ten times in the chest, gutted, and ultimately killed. He had been tied up on a farm a few miles from the UNC campus. After months of mystery, a local man, Scott H. Wade, was charged with cruelty to animals. "There's nothing to indicate that Rameses was killed in connection with any [sports] rivalry or any satanic ritual or anything of that nature," said the local DA. "There is nothing to indicate at this time that [Wade] knew he was killing the UNC mascot."

A few months later Wade pleaded guilty, apologized for what he had did, and said that he had committed the crime while drunk and hungry. "He later realized what he had done and could not eat the quarter of the ram" he had carried away, said the DA.

3. Randy Johnson and the dove
In March 2001, the lefty slinger was on the mound for one of his final tuneups of spring training. Johnson, facing the Giants, struck out eight batters and killed a dove in the seventh inning, blasting the bird to smithereens on a pitch to Calvin Murray.

Dove cleanup
A groundskeeper picks up what's left of the dove that was killed by a Randy Johnson fastball.

"I'm sitting there waiting for (the pitch), and I'm expecting to catch the thing, and all you see is an explosion," said Diamondbacks catcher Rod Barajas. "It's crazy. There's still feathers down there."

"It exploded, feathers and everything, just 'poof!'" said Murray. "There were nothing but feathers laying on home plate. I never saw the ball, nothing but feathers."

Murray said the pitch should have been called a ball, but it was ruled no pitch.

One wag suggested that the bird might have fared better had it been wearing a batting helmet. Johnson, noting the fun those around him were having with the incident, said, "I didn't think it was all that funny."

4. Kevin Mitchell beheads cat
Dwight Gooden, in his autobiography, says he once dropped in on his teammate, a "drunk and angry" Kevin Mitchell, during the 1986 season. Mitchell, holding a knife, was arguing with the few people there, including his girlfriend. During the long, drawn-out episode, Mitchell, to prove some kind of point, chopped off the head of his girlfriend's cat.

5. The flying octopi of Detroit
On April 15, 1952, brothers Pete and Jerry Cusimano, avid Red Wings fans, tossed an octopus onto the ice at Olympia Stadium. Why? Because the Wings needed eight wins to take the Stanley Cup -- four in each round of the playoffs. Eight wins, eight tentacles. Get it?

Octopus
The eight-tentacled mollusk has long been a symbol for the Wings.

The Red Wings swept their way to the Cup, and the tradition endured. During the 1996 playoffs, a record 50-pounder flew onto the surface, and was carted around on the Zamboni between periods.

According to ESPN.com's Darren Rovell, the practice of tossing the mollusks onto the ice after each Red Wings goal has resulted in a lucrative business when the Wings make the playoffs, with fans buying them from a local market at $9.95 a pound. But PETA finds the practice far from acceptable.

"In recent days the team owner (Michael Ilitch) seems to be promoting it and encouraging the practice," said a PETA person. "Flinging an octopus is no more acceptable than hurling kittens and puppies."

6. Dave Winfield kills seagull
On August 4, 1983, Dave Winfield and the Yankees were playing against the Blue Jays in Toronto. Winfield had a great game, driving in two runs as the Yankees won 3-1. Unfortunately, he was arrested after the game. In the middle of the fifth, Winfield finished his warmups and tossed the ball to a batboy. The ball hit a seagull on the head, killing the bird, and Winfield was charged with cruelty to animals.

"They say he hit the gull on purpose," said Yanks manager Billy Martin "They wouldn't say that if they'd seen the throws he'd been making all year. It's the first time he's hit the cutoff man."

The charges were dropped the next day.

Harvey
MacTavish left the Calgary mascot speechless.

7. Harvey the Hound loses his tongue
In January, Calgary Flames mascot Harvey the Hound hounded Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish a little bit too much.

At one point, Harvey leaned over the glass, and MacTavish pounced on the opportunity, swiping Harvey's foot-long tongue right out of his mouth, and waving it like a trophy before the crowd.

MacTavish had no regrets. "You deal with a lot of stuff as a coach, and Harvey the Hound isn't normally in the job description, nor should it be," he said.

Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock thought something should be done to help the mascot. "A Save Harvey fund," he suggested. "Hopefully they get that done. Harvey needs his tongue back."

8. Golfer clubs black swan
Alex, a 6-foot exotic black swan imported from Australia by Donald Trump, was killed by a golfer on Dec. 29, 2000 at the Trump International Golf Club. Harry Wagner, 54, told investigators he felt threatened by the swan, which is why he broke the rare bird's neck. The investigators noted that he could have driven away in his golf cart instead of killing Alex. Wagner, charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, entered a plea agreement that involved community service for an animal shelter.

Trump had imported four black swans in all. Before Alex's death, another had been eaten by an alligator.

9. Ozzy the osprey knocked from perch
Ryu had tried several times during pregame practice on April 21 to knock the osprey from its perch before finally hitting it. Ryu was charged Thursday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission with harming a protected bird. The second-degree misdemeanor carries a maximum fine of $500 and 60 days in jail.

10. Mariner Moose smashes into wall, breaks ankle
In the 1995 playoffs, the Mariner Moose performed his usual schtick of riding on in-line skates behind a four-wheeler. But something went terribly wrong before his fifth-inning stunt, and he crashed into the left-field wall and broke his right ankle.

To his credit, the Moose didn't complain about being mistreated or being forced to perform the stunt. The replacement Moose simply called the accident a "tough break."