Angels' mascot, the Rally Monkey, swings into the World Series

Friday, October 18, 2002

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Fans of the Anaheim Angels know the real secret of their team's unexpected success this season.

It's ... the Rally Monkey.

The Rally Monkey is a white-faced capuchin decked out in a tiny Angels uniform who pops up on Edison Field's JumboTron to incite the crowd during home games. Since the team started their playoff run, it has gotten more ink and television air time than most of the team's players. And the frisky primate is likely to get even more time in the spotlight when the Angels face the Giants in the World Series, beginning Saturday.

But even before the playoffs, the Rally Monkey had already become a regular on ESPN's SportsCenter. It had its own theme song, "Jump Around" by House of Pain; a banana drink named after it at a restaurant near Edison Field; and its own Web site, rallymonkey.com.

You can buy Rally Monkey T-shirts and Rally Monkey plush dolls -- 4,000 of which were sold at $15 each during Game 3 of the Angels-Yankees playoff series alone. Angels fans come to games carrying monkeys, wearing monkeys on their hats, waving monkeys on sticks, even dressed as monkeys.

"Every time they put the monkey up there, fans start pointing, laughing, getting into it. It's loud. It gets crazy. And our hitters feed off the fans," Angels hitting coach Mickey Hatcher told reporters during the playoffs.

Hatcher's comments aside, Angels management is a modest about the Rally Monkey's achievements and growing status as sports phenomenon.

"You kind of liken him to a baseball role player," said Peter Bull, the team's entertainment manager and chief spokesman for the Monkey, on Tuesday. "He only comes out when he's needed. Ultimately, the Rally Monkey is the belief that we can come back."

The Giants are hoping to stifle the monkey -- because it's a winner. According to statistics compiled by the team -- this being baseball, there have to be statistics -- the monkey's record this season is 27-11 when the Angels trailed at home in the seventh inning or after. Over the past 21/2 years, the rally record is 57-41.

The Rally Monkey's very first victory -- his first appearance, actually -- involved the Giants.

Back on June 6, 2000, the Angels were behind the Giants at Edison in the seventh inning and two operators of the JumboTron -- Dean Fraulino and Jason Humes -- were looking for a way to wake up a sleepy crowd.

They reached into their collection of videos and pulled up a clip of a jumping capuchin from the 1994 film "Ace Ventura, Pet Detective." At the last moment, they superimposed "Rally Monkey" on the clip. The crowd went nuts -- and the Angels rallied to beat the Giants.

The Monkey became such a crowd favorite so quickly that the Angels hired monkey actors to play the role in new videos. For most of the past two seasons, the Rally Monkey has been Katie -- a Hollywood veteran whose resume includes the role of the obnoxious Marcel, Ross' pet monkey on "Friends," and one of the Ebola-infected primates in the film "Outbreak."

A mythology grew up around the Rally Monkey with very specific rules about when it can appear on the JumbroTron: never before the seventh inning, only if the Angels are behind or tied. And the Rally Monkey only comes on when the Angels are at bat. (The latter is a rule issued by the team's top reliever, Troy Percival, who didn't like the noise the Monkey aroused when he was pitching.)

Even players from opposing teams have gotten into the Rally Monkey thing.

Doug Mientkiewiciz of the Twins dissed his team's own rally tradition -- the Homer Hanky -- last week when he proclaimed that "the Rally Monkey's awesome."

"The Homer Hanky ain't going to do anything on its own," he said. "You can't just set it down and have it jump around."

The Giants' Benito Santiago, after the team's Monday night win over the Cardinals, said he couldn't wait to see the Rally Monkey in Anaheim -- because it would mean the Angels were losing.

"I would like to see that monkey jumping up and down," said Santiago with a grin.

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