KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- At a time the struggling Kansas City Royals needed a boost, along came the Rally Mantis.
And lo and behold, an epic August soon followed. But now, the team's second good luck charm, Rally Mantis, Jr., is off the road, as the Royals release the praying mantis to the wild on Tuesday afternoon.
When it comes to a bug's life, this might be as good as it gets. The Lakeside Nature Center sits about seven miles from Kauffman Stadium, home of the World Champion Royals. On Tuesday, the nature center welcomed “Rally,” as Royals players had come to know him, as a permanent resident.
It's been quite a journey to get there. Rally, Jr. was adopted about the time the Royals took flight, winning 18 out of 23 at one point, battling their way into the American League Wild Card race. The Royals put the mantis out front, selling T-shirts and puppets to fans in love with the bug.
“Whatever you believe about good luck charms or superstitions or whatever, the team played really well when we had an insect as part of the clubhouse,” Toby Cook, Royals Vice-President for publicity, said.
Kimberly Hess, Lakeside Nature Center director, says Rally has stepped into the lap of insect luxury. He can be seen inside a glass enclosure about 100 feet inside the center’s front door.
“We can give him luxury living with plenty of insects, crickets and mealworms to his heart's desire,” Hess said.
Cook says the baseball franchise chose Lakeside Nature Center in an effort to give their wildlife preservation efforts some attention.
“We also have a program that focuses on insects. Rally can become part that piece also,” Hess said.
Rally Jr.’s new residency has opened new eyes to entymology. Just ask kids such as Leawood preschooler Kolsten Branson, who at four years old, is excited to see the celebrity insect.
“He flies,” Branson said. “They try to catch them every time.”
Hess says Rally Jr. will be on display at Lakeside Nature Center until he's gone. At the rate he's going, as an adult praying mantis, means he'll pass sometime near November, bringing him to full life expectancy.
Lakeside Nature Center is open every day of the week except Mondays. Managers there say they're hopeful Royals players will come pay a visit to their retired teammate.