For baseball fans in Corpus Christi, a foul ball has become a lot more exciting to see during games. That’s because of a Chocolate Lab named Teal, whose job it is to go and fetch the balls hit into foul territory.
Teal is the 4-year-old canine companion of the head groundskeeper, Landry, for the Corpus Christi Hooks at Whataburger Field. Beloved by players, stadium staff, and fans alike, he serves as the team’s unofficial mascot.
Landry named the dog not for the color, but after a species of duck known for its small size and quick speed. Teal’s relatives were bird hunters, and from puppyhood, the dog showed an affinity for fetching things. Instead of hunting fowl, Teal found his calling retrieving baseballs.
Teal’s Home Field
When Landry interviewed for a position with the Hooks, he asked if he would be able to bring his dog to work. They of course said yes. Landry told The Houston Chronicle:
“I had no idea he was going to be able to, A, come to the ballpark, and B, be accepted as widely as he has. It’s something I don’t really notice day to day, but it really is special.”
As his dad rides a tractor up and down the outfield spraying fertilizer on the grass, Teal runs alongside before eventually hopping up next to him. He usually shadows Landry, but at other times you can find him napping under the scoreboard or in the office with a pile of chewed baseballs.
As Landry puts it:
“It’s Teal’s ballpark, I’m just living in it.”
Landry does joke that Teal has “FOMO” (aka “fear of missing out”) and rarely lets his dad out of his sight. If he does go too far, Landry simply whistles thrice to summon him back.
The Foul Ball Gig
Teal didn’t begin his work fetching foul balls until the Covid-19 pandemic when ball kids were no longer allowed on the field. Landry initially suggested the idea of Teal taking over as a joke, but the ballpark entertainment manager (who also has a Chocolate Lab) fully supported it.
Very well-trained, Teal knows exactly where he’s supposed to go and when. He never gets in the way of games, and he doesn’t even relieve himself on the field (he knows to go on the other side of the fence.)
Naturally, the Foul Ball Dog is extremely popular. Crowds cheer his appearances, and the players love him. This result of the pandemic is what I’d call a silver lining.