Tuesday, February 12, 2008

By Eric Denton - Angelswin.com Senior Writer

Picture it: An average Tuesday night game at Edison Field of Anaheim.

In the midst of another mediocre season, the Angels were trailing, ironically enough, the San Francisco Giants, 0-3, in the sixth inning of an interleague game. The Anaheim crowd was its typical lethargic self when suddenly a clip from the film "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" popped onto the Jumbotron. It was very simple footage of a monkey jumping up and down on a stool with the words "Rally Monkey" superimposed underneath it.

The Angels scored a run that inning, on a hardly-riveting Mo Vaughn groundout to score Darin Erstad, but it was a run nonetheless. The monkey returned in the seventh inning and the Angels scored twice, cutting the Giants lead to 4-3. In the eighth, Tim Salmon tied the game with a solo home run.

The Giants regained the lead in the ninth, however, on a Marvin Benard double, but the Rally Monkey's work was not done.

Giants closer Robb Nen replaced Felix Rodriguez for the bottom of the ninth and gave up a one-out single to Adam Kennedy and walked pinch hitter Scott Spiezio. The Rally Monkey appeared again. Erstad singled to right to score Kennedy and tie the game. And following a Kevin Stocker fielder's choice, Vaughn singled home Erstad with the game winner. Angels 6, Giants 5.

The next night, the Angels blew a 9-4 lead in the seventh and eighth innings and entered the bottom of the eighth tied with the same Giants, 9-9. A fan seated above the video control booth began yelling at the top of his lungs, "RALLY MONKEY!" Shortly thereafter, Dean Fraulino and Jaysen Humes, working in the booth, flashed the video of the monkey. The crowd, and the Angels, responded.

Bengie Molina singled with one out and after a Kennedy lineout, Edgard Clemente singled. The Rally Monkey again coaxed the fans to their feet and Erstad singled to left to score Molina with the eventual game winner. Angels 10, Giants 9.

The video proved very popular with fans and the Angels decided to film their own videos of the monkey. The Rally Monkey was now portrayed by "Katie," a white-haired Capuchin monkey, and the song "Jump Around" by hip-hop group House of Pain and a voice over were added: "Believe In the Power of the Rally Monkey."

Rules were implemented dictating how the monkey was to be used: The Angels must be tied or trailing by three runs or fewer in the seventh inning or later, and the Halos must have put at least one runner on base.

While the Angels fans and the Rally Monkey became fast friends during the 2000 and 2001 seasons, the mascot wouldn't became a national phenomenon until the historic 2002 World Series season.

The power of the Rally Monkey reached its peak during Game 6 of the World Series, against those same Giants and their closer Nen. Angels 6, Giants 5. But that's another story, isn't it?

Since then, the Rally Monkey has become a sports mascot icon, appearing in ESPN SportsCenter commercials and mentioned in the monologues of late night hosts Jay Leno and David Letterman.

She also became a staple of the Angels fan experience. Fans bring their stuffed animal monkeys to the game and the monkey video features — now a bit more slickly-produced — are still being shown regularly, with the monkey being superimposed into scenes of popular movies such as "Star Wars," "The Ring" and "Jurassic Park."
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