NEW YORK — The Atlanta Braves, a team not known for its knowledge of ornithology, say the bird Dion James killed with a fly ball was a dove and not a pigeon.
In the third inning of the Atlanta Braves' 12-4 victory Sunday over the New York Mets, James led off with what should have been a routine fly to left field. New York's Kevin McReynolds began drifting under the ball but stopped when it collided with the bird.
By the time McReynolds retrieved the ball, James stood at second with a double. Shortstop Rafael Santana collected the bird from the outfield grass and handed it to the ball girl. She deposited it under the stands.
"I didn't know what had happened," McReynolds said. "It was that time of game when the sun was in my eyes. The only thing I could think right off was the ball went in the sun and I just lost it. Then all of a sudden, I saw two objects falling."
James scored one batter later when Dale Murphy hit his first home run of the season.
The bird was first identified as a pigeon but, after the game, Braves players said it was a dove.
"To the best knowledge of the Elias Sports Bureau, no bird has ever been killed in a major league game by a fly ball," Mets' spokesman Jay Horwitz said. "But in 1981, in the Northwest League, Eric Davis (now with Cincinnati) hit a ball that struck a bird and killed it in midflight."