The eagle has landed -- on a baseball player during the national anthem

The bird may have mistaken a Mariners pitcher for its handler.

April 6, 2018, 12:16 AM

Maybe the Eagle knew James Paxton was Canadian.

During the national anthem at Thursday afternoon's home opener for the Minnesota Twins, an eagle may have mistaken the Mariners pitcher for its handler as it tried landing on Paxton's shoulder.

Paxton was standing alone in left field, clutching his cap to his chest, when the bird, named Challenger, circled around him a few times and attempted to land awkwardly on his right, non-throwing, shoulder.

"Challenger simply thought the pitcher was one of his handlers standing near the large U.S. flag in the outfield ready to catch him and give him a piece of salmon," the American Eagle Foundation said in a statement Thursday night.

The 28-year-old Challenger has performed at 12 World Series games, five BCS National Championships and dozens of other high-profile events. This is the bird' first public mishap.

"The sharp points on the tip of Challenger's talons are always blunted before his performances at major sporting events," the foundation added.

Paxton was unharmed. He pitched five strong innings, but the Twins prevailed 4-2.

"I wasn't going to run," Paxton said after the game. "I figured I'm not going to outrun an eagle, so we might as well just see what happens."

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