Rally Monkey evolves into Angels' Most Valuable PrimatePosted: Sunday October 27, 2002 6:50 PM
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) -- A day before the World Series started, reliever Scott Eyre gave the San Francisco Giants the only scouting report they really needed.
"Don't look at the Rally Monkey! He will jinx you," the pitcher said. "I'm serious."
Apparently, a few of his teammates didn't listen. Or worse yet, maybe they just didn't believe.
Because suddenly, that little chimp at Anaheim has become the World Series MVP -- Most Valuable Primate.
Mystical, magical, who knows? How else to explain the monkey business that happened Saturday night?
Down five runs in the seventh inning, the Angels pulled off the biggest comeback in Series history by a team facing elimination. With the Rally Monkey jumping all over the scoreboard and getting the crowd jazzed, Anaheim rallied for a 6-5 win and forced a Game 7 Sunday night.
"That thing was showing again, wasn't it?" Giants outfielder Tom Goodwin said. "It's crazy, but whatever works for them. I mean, who knows if they believe in it, or whatever? But the fans surely get riled up."
Do they ever. Especially since Anaheim has gone 63-42 since it started showing up back in 2000, and only then when Angels trailed or were tied in the sixth inning or later.
Six of those wins have come during this postseason, including twice against the Giants.
"The success of the monkey is nothing without the players and their ability to come back. The players feed off the fans," said the main monkey man, Peter Bull, who operates video of the mascot. "This is, without a doubt, his biggest moment."
Actually, he is a she -- the star of this show is 6-year-old Abbie, a capuchin monkey wearing an Angels jersey.
Constantly dancing around while spliced into clips from Ghostbusters, Signs and other movies, she's become the darling of Angels' fans and a symbol of the team's never-give-up attitude.
The crowds simply go wild when they watch John Belushi climbing up a ladder to peer into a sorority girl's window in "Animal House" and then see the monkey going ape inside. Then there's the scene from "Risky Business" where instead of Tom Cruise, the monkey slides into a hallway and begins shaking.
No matter that her white face isn't getting tons of face time on TV.
Fact is, a lot of people beyond Anaheim haven't seen that much of her. To the point where many folks wonder what all the fuss is about.
"We've been judicious about showing the Rally Monkey. Every time the Angels score, we don't go looking for the Rally Monkey," Fox's Dan Bell said Sunday.
"Everybody knows the Rally Monkey is a big part of the Angels. But there a lot of components going on during the game other than constantly showing the Rally Monkey," he said.
Quite an evolution from the day the monkey first appeared.
Back on June 6, 2000, the Angels were losing -- to San Francisco, of all teams -- in the sixth inning when Bull and his staff decided to play a clip from "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective" that featured a monkey jumping up and down.
Fans began chanting and the Angels came back to win by beating Robb Nen in the ninth inning -- coincidentally, Nen gave up Troy Glaus' go-ahead double in the eighth Saturday night.
"Somebody said, 'Hey, that's a rally monkey,"' Bull recalled. "Then we decided to put some text with it on the scoreboard."
The phenomenon had started, destined to join the Phillie Phanatic, Homer Hankies and Oakland's drummers as popular fan fixtures at ballparks and move alongside King Kong, Magilla Gorilla and Curious George in the Monkey Hall of Fame.
Back then, the monkey in the middle was Katie, previously seen in the first season of Friends as David Schwimmer's pet.
Last year, amid a terrible stretch, the Angels even tried bringing a real, live monkey to the ballpark. The fans didn't like it, Anaheim lost and pitcher Jarrod Washburn thought the whole idea was stupid.
Washburn zinged Angels' management, saying it was "making a mockery of the game."
This season, Abbie took over for Katie. She was a hit, too, with the Angels going 33-12 with her and moving within one win of their first World Series championship.
Now, the souvenir shop outside Edison Field can't keep them in stock. Recently, the call went out for $15 replacement monkeys, down $5 from the real dolls.
"To have the fans behind you, they never gave up," said Scott Spiezio, who hit a key home run in Game 6. "If it takes the Rally Monkey to get them going a little bit more, we love it."