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The greatest moments in horse baseball history

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Throughout history, humanity has relied on its trusty steeds. From the Middle Ages to the Wild West to today, humans and horses have long been interconnected.

In anticipation of this weekend's Belmont Stakes, when California Chrome will attempt to become the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed in 1978, here's a look at baseball's remarkable history of fillies, geldings and colts...

Like in horse racing, baseball has a Triple Crown: the league titles in average, home runs and RBIs. 

A pitcher that goes deep into ballgames is a workhorse. 

And to play a game of catch is called "tossing around the ole horsehide." (Called such for both the material that the ball was once made of as well as a warning to any horses in the nearby area.)

Hell, Yogi Berra even has a horse named after him

But what about actual horse baseball players? After all, elephant baseball players were relatively common in the early 20th century. Sadly, horseballers were slightly less common. A frantic online search spewed forth this ticket stub to Walter L. Main's Best Show on Earth featuring the "only horses on Earth trained to play baseball."

Horse baseball

(Image via Robert Edward Auctions)

Could this be true? Did Walter L. Main know something that no one else did -- namely, how to train a horse to play baseball? And why did he go to his grave with this secret? Surely there must have been underground horse baseball games where Dutch Warmbloods turned double plays with American Thoroughbreds. 

Fortunately, though Main's secrets were long lost, horses playing baseball briefly re-appeared in the early 1960s when Mr. Ed visited the Los Angeles Dodgers. 

The episode features the talking horse stopping by Dodger Stadium to pal around with Sandy Koufax, Willie Davis and Moose Skowron while manager Leo Durocher confuses the hero for Casey Stengel. 

Of course, the real highlight from the clip is that Mr. Ed doesn't just manage to hit the ball off of Sandy Koufax:

Mr Ed hit

But that he manages to make it around the bases, sliding in to home plate ahead of the throw. 

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It would take until 1981 for another horse to grace the diamond in CBS' The Horse That Played Center Field.

 

Sadly, despite these displays of speed, grace and defensive acumen, Major League teams still chose not to sign or draft any amateur horse talent. Even though there's nothing in the rulebook preventing it!

But while we wait for some genius billionaire to fund the Equestrian Baseball League, there is still one sport fit for kings and ballplayers alike. I speak, naturally, of donkey baseball.

It's the perfect combination of baseball, animals and rules like: "All fielders must ride their donkeys to within one step of the ball before dismounting to retrieve it. The outfielders are permitted to throw from the ground, but infielders must remount donkeys before making [the] throw."

Just look at these stunning displays of athleticism: 

Donkey hit

Donkey field

Donkey tiny donkey

So while we wait for that hopeful future, where man and beast are united on the diamond, you might as well sit back and grab a cold one: 

horse beer


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