It was a 130-dog night at Lexington Legends' Bark in the Park for fans, their canine companions

thurley@herald-leader.comJuly 15, 2013 

The patter of paws and wagging of tails joined the more recognizable sights and sounds of baseball Monday at the Lexington Legends' Bark in the Park night.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds descended on Whit aker Bank Ballpark as fans were invited to bring their four-legged friends to a game for the second time this season.

Even Legends staff took part: Groundskeeper Britt Barry gave his dog, a blue heeler named Cooper, a pregame tractor ride around the infield as Barry worked.

Legends promotions coordinator Lauren Shrader played catch with Cooper in front of the visiting dugout before the Legends and Delmarva Shorebirds played the last of a four-game series.

Shrader said the reaction from fans to Bark in the Park night had been great. "They love being able to come and sit with the dog," she said.

The lawn down the third base line became a dog park of sorts as animals checked out one another and their surroundings while doting owners aww-ed at their cuteness.

"It's kind of fun watching them all," Shrader said. "They're all in sensory overload and just taking it all in."

Hanna Brown, 5, a student at Lexington's Sandersville Elementary School, enjoyed the game with her dog, Abby, outfitted in a homemade Legends uniform.

Many animals used the two water-filled paddling pools near the picnic tables to cool off in the heat. Some fans stretched out on blankets on the lawn, while others settled in the shade by the picnic tables or sat in Section 214.

Bridgette Mullikin, 9, a fourth-grader at St. John School in Georgetown, was excited when she found out late in the afternoon that she'd get to bring her yellow Lab, Jeter (yes, named for Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter), to the game.

Bridgette and Jeter play catch with a baseball every day, so going to a game together was a thrill for her.

The 130 dogs at the park helped to push Monday's attendance to a little more than 4,000 as Lexington defeated Delmarva 1-0.

Shrader said staff handed out bags as dog owners entered in hopes of getting as much help as possible with the cleanup process. Dogs and their owners also were allowed to come and go from the park for comfort breaks.

Baseball-loving dog owners who missed the first Bark in the Park night June 20 and Monday's game have one more chance this season when the Legends close out their regular season with a game against West Virginia Power on Labor Day.

Tom Hurley: (859) 231-3308. Twitter: @TomHurley.

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