On April 17, the Padres were in the 15th inning of a night game at home against the Colorado Rockies. Neither team had been able to muster any kind of offense (one of the Pads' best hitters, outfielder Brian Giles, went 1-for-9), and the time had come to try something new.
A Padres player ducked into the clubhouse to retrieve Jeff, a taxidermied goat head, from the trainer's room, in the hope that it would bring some luck—or at least shorten the game. But then disaster struck. “Someone dropped him on the way to the dugout,” pitcher Jake Peavy later told CityBeat.
Could that someone be named Jake Peavy?
“No, no, I came to his rescue. I had the tape,” Peavy said, looking away. Indeed, TV cameras captured images of Peavy feverishly taping up the animal's head.
Peavy said the goat head has been in the clubhouse for as long as there's been a Petco Park, which is to say a little more than four years. He said former first baseman Ryan Klesko bought the goat and three other stuffed creatures at a yard sale in 2004. Peavy has no idea what happened to the other animals, but the goat spent the next three years hanging in the locker of relief pitcher Scott Linebrink. When Linebrink was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers last summer, he gave the “rally ram” to the team. It spends most of its time in the trainer's room.
Then came that fateful night. The goat head was dropped, Peavy retrieved it, brought it to the dugout, taped up the neck and balanced it on the bench so Jeff's glassy black eyes could take in all the action on the field.
But no amount of tape would mollify it. The Padres played another seven innings, setting a team record for longest game, and ultimately lost, 2-1.
Giles, who christened the goat Jeff (because, he said, “it needed a name”) doesn't think Jeff will be making any more appearances.
“It didn't work,” he said.
Indeed it didn't. Though the players have since given Jeff a neck brace to hold his head and plenty of medical tape to keep horn and head together, and paired him with a toy parrot named “Larry Bird,” Jeff has preferred to exact some sort of mystical revenge on the team. Including that night and through Sunday, the Padres had dropped eight of their last 10 games. Padres fans are left to wonder, when will Jeff be satisfied? How much will be enough?