[monkeywire] Angels’ Rally Monkey Comes Off the Bench
amcdonne at gmail.com
Thu Oct 8 13:43:35 EDT 2009
(picture at link)
Angels’ Rally Monkey Comes Off the Bench
By BILLY WITZ
Published: October 7, 2009
ANAHEIM, Calif. — As the baseball playoffs get under way, the scouting
report on Dean Fraulino reads as follows: don’t let the Los Angeles
Angels keep the score close. Otherwise, the man who has gotten inside
the head of the otherwise unflappable Derek Jeter, and who can make an
entire stadium go ape, is just a mouse click away from becoming a
Fraulino, who sits behind home plate in the windowless control room of
Angel Stadium, is the keeper of the home team’s 26th man — the Rally
It has been nine years since its spontaneous conception, but the Rally
Monkey — which became ubiquitous during the Angels’ run to the 2002
World Series title — is now as much a part of the scenery as Vladimir
Guerrero swinging at balls off his shoetops and Chone Figgins racing
from first to third.
The Rally Monkey stars in an ESPN commercial and has Web sites
dedicated to it. A furry replica — available in red, white, blue,
brown or black — can be purchased for $19.49 in team stores. Outside
the stadium, Rally Monkeys dot the shrine made by fans for Nick
Adenhart, the Angels pitcher who died in an automobile accident in
It is most visible, though, when the Angels are trailing at home in
the late innings. When the Rally Monkey appears on the video board,
the stadium suddenly comes to life. Fans rise out of their seats to
yell, and those who have monkeys hold them aloft, exhorting the Angels
“They still love the monkey,” Figgins, one of three remaining Angels
from the World Series champions, said with a chuckle.
“It’s part of the Angels’ aura,” said Brad Ziegler, a relief pitcher
with the Oakland Athletics. “You expect it now when you come to town.”
When outfielder Torii Hunter, who played for Minnesota when it lost
late-inning leads in Anaheim in the 2002 American League Championship
Series, signed with the Angels, he pulled a stuffed Rally Monkey from
under the table at his introductory news conference and placed it on
“If you can’t beat him,” Hunter said, “you join him.”
Other ballparks have their own distinguishing forms of entertainment
during the playoffs. The Twins have their white Homer Hankies, Red Sox
fans sing “Sweet Caroline” and beach balls are sure to bounce through
Dodger Stadium. In Anaheim, the red Thunder Sticks that made such a
racket during the 2002 postseason are long gone, but the Rally Monkey
Perhaps it is because the Rally Monkey is not about to become a free
agent, or end up in an updated version of the Mitchell report.
“Fans in baseball these days are disconnected from the players,”
Fraulino said. “The Rally Monkey is a connection to the team. They can
say, ‘Hey, we can help you win.’
“And besides,” Fraulino added, “who doesn’t like a monkey, for crying out loud?”
Karen Mateer and Elizabeth Wilson, a pair of middle-aged California
transplants, were at a recent game taking pictures of their Rally
“It fits here — you’ve got the laid-back, surfer vibe,” said Mateer, a
native of New York. “I could never imagine this at Yankee Stadium. In
New York, there’s a lot of aggression — it’s loud and forceful. Here,
it’s a fun way to exhibit your enthusiasm.”
Mateer spoke on a recent night when there was a typical near-capacity,
red-clad crowd that had come to see the Angels close in on their fifth
division title in six years. It was a reminder of how much has changed
since the Rally Monkey was born in 2000.
At the time, the Angels were known mostly for their bad luck and epic
collapses (see playoffs, 1982, 1986; A.L. West, circa 1995). By 2000,
Disney had bought the team and poured $100 million into renovating the
stadium. Despite its best efforts — uniforms that looked like
children’s pajamas, faux rocks beyond the center-field wall and
cheerleaders atop the dugouts — Disney had a hard time attracting
On June 6 that season, a crowd of 19,674 was watching San Francisco
lead the Angels when Fraulino had an idea. Earlier in the game, after
the Angels scored, he had used a clip from “Ace Ventura: Pet
Detective” that showed a monkey jumping up and down.
Peter Bull, who roams the stadium relaying fan reaction back to
Fraulino, told him the crowd laughed at the monkey clip. So each time
the Angels scored during the game, Fraulino replayed it.
Then, with the Angels trailing by a run in the bottom of the ninth,
Fraulino took his scheme a step further, laying the words “Rally
Monkey” over the clip.
“The rest is history,” Fraulino said.
The Angels scored two runs to win that night. They came back again
against the Giants the next night for another ninth-inning victory.
“At that point, we knew we had something,” Bull said.
Now, the Angels use the Rally Monkey for a children’s reading program
and about 40 promotions a year. A live Rally Monkey makes appearances
at fan festivals.
The Rally Monkey has evolved on the screen as well. The Angels bring a
monkey to the stadium to film it against a green backdrop. The team’s
video editors take that footage and dub it onto movie or television
scenes, from classic to contemporary.
There are strict rules on when it can appear — no earlier than the
seventh inning, at the start of an inning or during a pitching change,
and only when the score is tied or the Angels trail by no more than
“It’s got a role,” Bull said. “It’s like a closer. You wouldn’t bring
him in in the third inning.”
Opposing players take notice. Asked if he ever sneaks a peek at the
Rally Monkey, Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler said, “Every time.”
One of the more diligent observers seems to be Jeter. The Yankees have
plenty of bad memories of the Rally Monkey, and they lost to the
Angels in the playoffs in 2002 and 2005. At times, Jeter has suggested
his teammates not look at the monkey, but during a 6-5 Yankees victory
here last month, a different tactic seemed to work — the Yankees
watched from the dugout and laughed.
As for the Angels, there has not been much good humor in the
postseason lately. They have not had a come-from-behind playoff win
since their Game 6 comeback against the Giants in the 2002 World
Series. Now comes their postseason nemesis, Boston, in town again for
Game 1 of their division series Thursday night. A monkey will be ready
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