On the first day, the praying mantis was found in a dark, empty trashcan in the Royals’ dugout by strength and conditioning coach Ryan Stoneberg. He found a temporary home inside Billy Burns’ hat and eventually made his way to the dugout railing.
It was Saturday. Danny Duffy pitched well. The Royals won 4-2. It was very good.
On the second day, Sunday, there was morning, and there was evening. The Royals won again. This time 7-1. Royals fans decided, let him be named Rally Mantis. And so he was, and the creature was officially deemed good luck.
And on the third day, the Royals created a home for the Rally Mantis in a shoebox and included some grass. And the team saw that it was good.
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But then Burns said, “It’s best to just leave him outside in his natural habitat.” And it was so. The Royals released him into the wild — the Kauffman Stadium grass.
“If it just brightens a person’s day or just makes somebody smile,” Burns continued, “I think it’s done its job for the day.”
Then in the evening, Rally Mantis was back on the railing of the first-base dugout. When media arrived before talking to Ned Yost in the dugout, the new member of the Royals was swarmed. Rally Mantis crawled on shoulders and hands and backs. He was blessed by every camera inside Kauffman Stadium.
He was shunned by some Royals — namely Salvador Perez. Some were concerned that Mike Swanson, the vice president of communications and broadcasting, had done away with the Rally Mantis for good.
“I think after a while (Perez) got more used to it,” Burns laughed. “He touched it eventually — just a real quick touch, but that was it.”
Burns, in only his second week with the Royals, has been one of the mantis’s caretakers from the beginning. Somehow the seemingly charmed insect has helped nurture his relationship with his new teammates.
“He has really helped me fit in with the guys here,” Burns said, “if that makes sense at all.”
On the evening of the third day, Burns, Duffy and the unnamed Royals’ player who made the shoebox for Rally Mantis saw what they had made. And it was very good. And then there was a game — the third game.