Fans of America’s two national pastimes—dogs and baseball—were saddened to learn of the passing of Chase, “bat dog” of the Trenton Thunder. Diagnosed with lymphoma in February, the beloved Golden Retriever died peacefully on Monday at age 13.
Since 2002, Chase was the trusty retriever of bats and a goodwill ambassador for the Thunder, a minor-league affiliate of the New York Yankees. Over the years, he became one of baseball’s most popular attractions. In the minors, where players come and go with great frequency, Chase provided Thunder fans with a sense of continuity and tradition.
Chase’s last public appearance came on Friday night, three days before his death, at his pre-game retirement party at Arm & Hammer Park in Trenton. “He’s just a one-of-a-kind dog,” Thunder senior vice president and Chase’s keeper Eric Lipsman said during the festivities. “That’s all I can say. He lived for this. He just absolutely loved to be out there on the field.”
Fans attending the party received Chase bobble-head dolls. In attendance were several of Chase’s family members, including his son, Derby, who inherits his father’s bat-dog duties, and grandkids Casey and Chief. Another son, Ollie, could not attend due to a work conflict: He’s the bat dog for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
“God, who’s gonna replace Chase?” Thunder manager Tony Franklin said of the grizzled veteran of 11 baseball summers. “It’s kind of like, who’s gonna replace Derek Jeter? Really. Is the next one gonna be as good?”
The officers and staff of the American Kennel Club express their condolences to the Trenton Thunder and their fans. Derby has some awfully big paw prints to fill.