Meet the Arkansas baseball fan who wrangled a raccoon with his bare hands
Any time an uninvited animal appears at a sporting event, it's a recipe for a viral video. There was the black cat on the field at a New York Giants game in 2019. A squirrel scored a touchdown at a Louisville football game in 2017.
Arkansas baseball has had plenty of experience with unexpected guests. There was LSU baseball's "rally possum" in 2016 vs. the Razorbacks. In last year's super regionals against NC State, a groundhog ran onto the infield.
On Friday night, another viral hero was born at Baum-Walker Stadium: Fayetteville native Grant Harmon.
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RALLY RACCOON:Fan catches raccoon in stands at Arkansas baseball game vs. Vanderbilt
Harmon, 24, is enjoying a taste of viral fame after a raccoon ran through the stands in left field during Arkansas baseball's series opener against Vanderbilt. He saw the critter racing through his section and, in a moment of either bravery or insanity, caught it with his bare hands.
"The opportunity just came about, and I guess I just took action and grabbed it," Harmon told the Southwest Times. "That was a first. I have no prior experience grabbing raccoons."
The raccoon didn't quite become a "rally raccoon," as the Razorbacks lost to Vanderbilt 9-6 in 10 innings. Harmon grabbed the creature in between the seventh and eighth innings, when the game was tied 6-6. At that point, Arkansas had already rallied from down 5-0.
With fans cheering him on and taking pictures and videos, Harmon held the raccoon by the scruff of its neck and marched the intruder up the stairs of Section 117 and out of the stadium. He said he was met by University of Arkansas police officers, who told him to throw the raccoon in the parking lot.
Harmon nearly got away unscathed, but as he let the raccoon loose, it managed to reach around and bite him on the arm. A medical team helped clean up the bite, and Harmon was ready to watch the end of a close game.
"I was about to walk back into the stadium, and the cop was like, 'Uh, you need to go get a rabies shot, like, right now,' " Harmon said. "I drove to an ER that was close by, and they gave me my first round of rabies shots last night."
He now has to return for three more rounds.
Harmon wasn't the only one injured in the incident; His mother, Kelley, was standing on a chair behind Harmon when he nabbed the raccoon, trying to avoid it as it scurried by. She fell over behind him, captured on videos now circling the internet. Don't worry — she's fine.
"She's got a big old knot on her leg this morning," Harmon said. "But she's currently on a plane headed down to the beach, so I think she's in good spirits."
By day, Harmon is a salesman for a sporting goods company. His typical Saturday would be spent doing yard work or grilling outside. Instead, he's been fielding messages and calls from podcasts, radio stations, newspapers and more.
His girlfriend, unbeknownst to Harmon, even started a GoFundMe.
"I don't seek to benefit from this in any sort of way," Harmon said. "Any of the profits that are raised, we're just going to donate it to animal control or something of that sort."
Harmon has gotten laughs out of fellow Razorbacks' pride in his feat of strength, as well as from "outsiders" cracking jokes about Arkansans eating raccoons for dinner.
But before he gets his next few rounds of rabies shots, there's more baseball to watch. Harmon planned to be at Saturday's game.
"If I have the chance to make it to Baum-Walker," he said, "I definitely do."
Christina Long covers the Arkansas Razorbacks. You can email her at email@example.com or follow her on Twitter @christinalong00.